An exhibition for exhibition-makers. A museum without a house. A house full of mountains. Four universities with a lot of boxes and eight exhibitors with a lot more ideas. For the second time, the EXPOCASE format extends beyond conventional constraints.

The Brief

To develop a concept for, design and implement a platform that has design and communication at its heart. The platform is for the EXPONATEC COLOGNE – a trade fair for all things museum. To develop a concept for, organise and host an aptly packed supporting programme – with speakers, discussions and presentations – for this platform.

The Ideas

New focus, same successful curatorial concept. The focus is ‘Attraction. Communication. Intervention.’. The presentation format is the mini fair stand, based on the dimensions of a Euro pallet. Each exhibitor presents a cubic metre of perspectives, visions and solutions. Hosted in a communicative space. Catered for with a Café-Bar. Overlooked by a large stage-area and reading lounge for relaxing and lingering. Overhung by gleaming chrome speech bubble balloons, bearing information and attracting attention.
New focus, new guests. Four universities exhibit their responses to the focus. The students and tutors present the outcomes. Discursive presentations are held by renowned and unconventional exhibition-makers, in theory and practice.

The Reality

The concept works. Of the trade fair, EXPOCASE is the location of choice. The exhibitors profit from the visually appealing spatial experience. They are besieged with visitors. New contacts bloom and existing ones are groomed.

The presentations from the four universities entice many visitors to the area. A long queue snakes from the Café-Bar, and the sandbox-table offers a quiet spot for one-to-ones. The stage-seating and avedition reading lounge afford a place to linger, look and unwind. The afternoons are packed as we present the speakers and discuss new perspectives, theories and bold examples from exhibition design practices.

On Wednesday, Jasper Visser, author of the blog ‘Museum of the Future,’ fascinates us with a presentation on the initiation phase of the National History Museum of The Netherlands. With participative actions and social networking, he and the team reach over two million people, raising their interest in the museum without a house. Beat Hächler provides us with an exciting insight into his work as the new director of the Swiss Alpine Museum in Bern. In this house of mountains, he shows us his kick-off project ‘Berge versetzen. Eine Auslegeordnung’ – roughly translated: ‘Moving Mountains. Assembling-order-through-the-inspiration-that-comes-from-physically-laying-out-stock.’ (As we discovered, there is no translation for ‘Auslegeordnung’ – type it into the image search of your search engine to get an idea…). This project questions the existing collection and explores the future direction of the museum.

On Thursday, Sabine Jank from szenum Atelier für Rauminszenierungen (the Studio of Spatial Scenography), presents amongst others the successful participatory project ‘BMWGuggenheim Lab’  – coming next year to Berlin. Dr. Dieter Marcos, director of the Middle Rhine Museum in Koblenz, steps onto the stage with proof that even without a big budget and extensive personnel resources, it is possible to develop engaging and successful exhibition formats that attract a new public into an old house.

Photos: Annika Feuss, simple