So you get it done, beautifully.

Science Museum Tips: On Collaborating Successfully with Clients and Partners


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


Having worked for 10 years in museum education, I am familiar with the high level of collaboration between organizations needed to create meaningful exhibits and partnerships. However, now that I have transitioned to exhibit development, I find it’s rare to hear anyone speak about how hard it is to collaborate on large projects with multiple contributors. Here are a few significant tips that have helped me develop great communication lines with clients and partner organizations, and make collaboration less of a chore and more of a joy:

  1. Go in with a detailed work plan and timeline. Make it clear who is responsible for each piece of development and design, and communicate prior to deadlines rather than after they have been missed.
  2. Create a template for receiving feedback, rather than tracking changes within a document. It leads to more articulate communication about the content, narrative, and design decisions.
  3. Organizations and consultants always have multiple projects and deadlines, many having nothing to do with the project at hand. Appreciate shifting schedules and other milestones that help your partners achieve their goals, without letting the collaboration suffer.

I have been working with Lee H. Skolnick Architecture + Design Partnership and Paul Orselli Workshop (POW!) to assist the America for Bulgaria Foundation in developing Muzeiko, the first children’s museum in Bulgaria. We, as a team, adopted these strategies to overcome language and cultural barriers and create what continues to be a conscientious, successful partnership.

Christina Joy Ferwerda, independent consultant, New York City

640 433 Gweneth Mclittle

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