A Student’s View of the Museum’s Exhibits

My name is Andrea McCleese and I am a senior at Northside High School in Warner Robins, Georgia. I am in a Humanities class and we do an exercise called Professional Interest Exploration (PIE). PIE is where students go and shadow a professional of their choice and do busy work at the facility. The other option is a group of two or three students can go over to the Museum of Aviation and actually have the opportunity to create an exhibit and gain more knowledge and interpersonal relationships with the curators and military personnel.

My friend Amber Hunter and I saw the museum as a golden opportunity to expand our boundaries and prior knowledge of the Air Force. Both of us have family ties and interests to the Air Force, Amber’s being that her step-father is in the Air Force as an Explosive Ordinance Disposal specialist, and mine being that I want to join the military.

Over the course of this semester, Amber and I spent two hours every Monday here at the Museum of Aviation. While we were here we did various tasks and research for us to create an exhibit. One task in particular stuck with me and helped better my knowledge on what it takes to make sure our exhibit has everything it needs for the viewers to take everything that they need from it.

This task was going through the museum and evaluating exhibits on what we thought were the strongest and which were the weakest. We looked at things like how each exhibit conveyed its main idea, the way it took up space in the case, and even how it keeps the viewers interested. Both of us went our separate ways and came back together to discuss what we found. I liked how both of us had differences and similarities to what we noticed.

What I got from the task was that the EOD exhibit (a student exhibit from three years before us) was a really good exhibit because it had several visuals such as videos, uniforms, and even machinery used to help people like Amber’s step dad carry out their jobs.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Exhibit.

My favorite exhibit was the “Drop Zone” which is a D-Day exhibit. I liked it because it’s an audio exhibit and it has special lighting enhancing different parts of the exhibit at the right times showing a story. The only problem that I found with this exhibit was that the information is set up left to right (how people read) and you walk through the exhibit starting from the right. Whenever visitors walk through, they can miss out on a lot of information.

View of the cutaway C-47 in the D-Day exhibit. Visitors enter the room through the door at the right.
A cutaway C-47 “Skytrain” airplane in the D-Day exhibit has realistic figures of paratroopers and aircrew. Visitors enter the room through the door at the right.

The exhibit that I found to be the weakest was the “14th Air Force Uniforms” because contained little information and it didn’t take up the space provided for it well. Amber also picked this exhibit to be a weak one and we discussed what would make it better. What we came up with was that it could be better if it got changed into a smaller case because then there wouldn’t be a surplus of empty space.

This case is in the "Flying Tigers of the 14th Air Force" exhibit.
This case is in the “Flying Tigers of the 14th Air Force” exhibit.

I really enjoyed this task because it showed that even high school students can make a difference in how exhibits could be better. I felt like it was great that we could have a discussion about what could be better and then turn the discussion back to our exhibit and what we could do in order to make sure that the same mistakes don’t appear in ours.

Andrea McCleese, Northside High School Class of 2015

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