Exhibit: Purpose Unveiled

Meriam-Webster Dictionary (2015) defines exhibit as

an object or a collection of objects that have been put out in a public space for people to look at.

An exhibit is basically a visual medium. As a medium, it transmits the message of the sender to a particular receiver. As a visual medium, its verbal or textual explanation are usually minimal and the visual elements do almost all the work. It presents an info quickly and convincingly using photos, or in other cases, paintings. Exhibits can either include panel board, bulletin board, or point-of-purchase sale displays.

Steve McCurry Exhibit
babasteve / Foter / CC BY-NC

Purpose of an Exhibit:
A good exhibit tells a story. The story should be in order, told with simplicity, unity and progression. With this in mind, the amount of detail presented in an exhibit must depend on its size so as to achieve this.

In addition, most exhibits appeal to one of human motives, which are:

  • health
  • utility
  • economy of time
  • safety
  • pleasure
  • comfort
  • information

As the exhibit tells a story, its function is to influence people towards an action. These actions can either be one or more of the following:

1) Teach Facts (give info)
2) Show Process (teach how to do)
3) Promote (encourage participation and raise money)
4) Recognition (show quality, raise standards)

Just remember:

A good exhibit has about 60 seconds to:
1) attract and inform
2) create public interest
3) produce favorable action

Why? Because people will just come and go to the public space where the exhibit is available. More often than not, exhibits only allow the viewers a bit of their time and attention so it is important that in a glance, the exhibit is able to relay its purpose.

Reference: Meriam Webster Dictionary (2015). Exhibit. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exhibit. Last retrieved 13 February 2015.


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