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Check back here soon for more updates, and an all-new Exhibit Design Bookshelf! And if you are ever in the Twitter neighborhood, do stop by: www.twitter.com/jonathanalger / @jonathanalger

World’s First Affordable Multitouch Table Surface?

Behold the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon, a new “table PC” all-in-one steathily introduced at CES (so much so that I missed it completely until just now). The name isn’t much better than “Microsoft PixelSense”, but the pricetag ($1,699) might help it break through where said famously unsuccessful and overpriced ($10,000) multitouch ancestor couldn’t. Size-wise, it’s a lot more portable than some monsters out there, and the design looks pretty appealing in the demo videos. Fingers crossed that this is the one that makes multitouch tables – er, table PCs – more feasible for the masses.

Via Engadget.

“Play Work Build” at NBM

The National Building Museum has launched an an interactive exhibit on the history of building blocks. From the Co.Design article:

This month in Washington D.C., the National Building Museum is staging an exhibition devoted in part to [architect David Rockwell's] Imagination Playground. Installed in the museum’s wide galleries, Play Work Build chronicles the history of active play in the most appropriate way possible: by asking visitors to actually play the games. A massive series of shelves offers more than 2,300 architectural and construction games, from Froebel Blocks to Tinker Toys. Some of the building games date back to the 1870s.

Art of Scent

Does all innovation in exhibition design have to be purely technology-driven? That’s what I was asking myself just this morning. And right on time, along comes a Times review of “The Art of Scent 1889-2012,” the new exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design, changing the primary sense used by exhibit visitors from visual to olfactory. And demonstrating that innovation can come in many flavors. Or smells.

UPDATE, 27 Nov 2012: More now in (Fast)Co.Design.

Effective Exhibit Design: Ten Tips

Anyone who has designed both cultural exhibits and expo booths knows that although both are called “exhibits,” they can be as different as they are alike.

And that’s why I like this graphic, just published in Exhibitor Magazine: not only do I agree with all of these insights, but with a few small word changes, they would all apply to both kinds of “exhibits.”

Exhibit Design Bookshelf

A while back I created an exhibit design bookshelf on Shelfari (with the help of then-intern-now-designer Jess Griscti). For years I have collected books on exhibit design, museum planning and interactive space. I have the actual physical bookshelf, with all the actual books, in my office, so I don’t look at the virtual one that often. It’s worth a look. It still needs some categorizing and blurbs, but I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else.

9/11 in the Times

This article, just out in the Times, is a must-read discussion about the challenges of putting together the story for the 9/11 project. Most of the press coverage in the past years has focused on the budget, logistics, or politics of the whole thing; this is the first to point out the challenges of interpretation.

UPDATE: In a related piece on the budget-related construction freeze at 9/11, the Times offers a few interesting economic stats. Also worth reading.

My Tumblr Experiment

After much prompting (ahem), I am experimenting with Tumblr as a way to post quick visual inspirations. See more at: jonathanalger.tumblr.com. (Or if Twitter is more your style: @JonathanAlger).

See Tumblr screengrab below. Comments welcome.

Thanks for the Next 20 Years

Last month, November 2011, officially marked my 20th year practicing … whatever it is I do. I was first hired to work on an exhibit design project (the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY) in November, 1991. I had no idea that it was a career, or that people even did it at all. Now I am at least somewhat more convinced.

So thanks, everyone, for helping me survive my first 20 years of it, and thank you in advance for helping me through my second 20 years of it. Whatever it is.

I will be in touch somewhat later, regarding my third 20 years.

Just In: Scenography / Szenografie

I was recently in Germany and picked up “Scenography / Szenografie”, a compendium of work by the formidable Prof. Uwe Brueckner and colleagues at Atelier Brueckner in Stuttgart. In US stores in February, available for preorder now.

The book is rather spectacular, further evidence of the remarkable progress of exhibition designers around the world over the past generation, particularly in Europe, where Stuttgart is a veritable hive of brilliant firms. US designers would do well to get a copy of this book and others.

Image above via Atelier Brueckner.

Museum With Wings

Currently under construction: the new Zayed National Museum, just outside Abu Dhabi, by architects Foster & Partners.

Why wings? Pick one and post your answer below:

(a) The eponymous Sheikh Zayed, who is the original founder of the whole UAE, loves falconry. The wings are meant to honor his pastime.

(b) They are innovative ventilation scoops that cool the building in an arid, unforgiving climate.

(c) Both (a) and (b) above.

(d) Why not?

Here, on the other hand, is a Foster museum with just one new wing.

Via Gizmodo.

MoMA’s iPad App

Mm, pretty: the new MoMA abstract expressionism iPad app.

Exactly what I’m supposed to do with it, I’m not quite sure. Is it a really big handheld guide for my next museum visit, or do I sit on my porch and use it, but not see the real art? If it’s the former, both my hands are already full of the little hands of my co-visitors. If it’s the latter, I’ll go for a coffee table book (bigger pictures, higher resolution).

All that said, it’s beautiful anyway, so why not.

Curator as Exhibit

Brilliant. I’ve been trying to convince someone to do this for years. And bravo, Mr. de Guzman.

“From close up, the headquarters of the senior curator of art at the Oakland Museum of California mostly looks the same. de Guzman’s laptop and phone occupy their usual spots on his glass-topped desk. The walls are covered with sketches and paintings. But instead of sitting behind a closed door in the museum’s administrative wing, de Guzman is on display to the public as he works at his desk alongside the art displays.”

Via the Bay Citizen.

Universe of Particles at CERN

Mesmerizing: CERN’s new interactive exhibition center on YouTube. (Run it full screen for full effect.) Do you know the designers? Please comment below. Design by the excellent folks at Atelier Brückner. (Thanks, Phillip Teufel!)

Also on Flickr here. And more here. Via the excellent PLOT.

My Exhibit Design Bookshelf

After years of quietly enjoying my ever-growing collection of books on exhibit design, museum planning and interactive spaces, I have finally come up with a way to share my bookshelf with everyone. I hereby announce the Exhibit Designer’s Bookshelf (beta), courtesy of Shelfari.

Click the link at the very top of this page, or here, and enjoy. More fancy features to come, this is just a start.

Many thanks to Jessica Griscti, bibliographer extraordinaire, for helping to make this happen.

Suggestions? Missing books? Useful? Not useful? Comments open below.