So you get it done, beautifully.

Science Museum Tips: MORE On Naming an Exhibition


This is an extended version of an article that appeared in the January/February 2014 issue of ASTC’s Dimensions magazine


Naming is one the most difficult steps in the process of creating an exhibition, especially because it is for a “lifetime.” It’s like choosing a name for a child—it involves many ideas and many more advisors. So let me be one of them.

In September 2013, we opened the EXPERYMENT Science Centre in Gdynia, Poland, in a new facility. We had six years of history and experience, so the general rules of naming exhibitions were well known to us.

Science center experts always say, “Don’t use a school subject as a name for your exhibition.” I can agree with this advice—words like “physics” or “mathematics” can be boring and scary, as associated with a school environment. But honestly speaking, in our former exhibition we had such names, and it was amazing when a child said “I had a great time in Physics today.”

So how can we choose exhibition names that encourage guests to visit our science center? After many brainstorming meetings, discussions, quarrels, and fights we finally did it. New names of exhibitions in our new premises are HYDROWORLD, THE TREE OF LIFE, OPERATION: HUMAN, and INVISIBLE FORCES.

Beautiful, aren’t they? To us, they are. But before we invented our wonderful new names, we used some working names for a long time. They stuck in our heads. What could we do to forget about them? Repetition of the new names was the only solution. Happily, we had a big opening ceremony and huge media interest. We had to describe EXPERYMENT Science Centre and its new galleries so many times. Repeating and repeating has helped us to remember and get used to the new names. Moreover, we had one more motivation to remember them: a huge number of new colleagues. In order to have good team communication, we had to use the new names so as not to confuse our team members.

So dear moms and dads of news exhibitions! The most important piece of advice is: Always try to have a final name as fast as you can. Otherwise it will be difficult to give up the previous, working name. The name of an exhibition should be short and appealing for public relations materials. It should not be too serious, but it should be intriguing. Also, check out what your name means in some foreign languages—otherwise there is a chance of unintentionally amusing tourists from around the world. And last but not least, don’t ask too many advisors. You know best how to name your child. Good luck!

Ewa Jasinska, director, EXPERYMENT Science Centre, Gdynia, Poland

Photo by Steve Parker

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