Museum Consultant

Alice Parman fell in love with museums in 1972 and has worked in and around them ever since. She brings both experience and creativity to your interpretive planning project. A skilled facilitator, Alice elicits good ideas from all participants, then adds her own perspective. She works collaboratively with your team to develop an interpretive approach that’s a perfect match for your institution and your community.

Since August 2017, Alice has consulted with the American Indian Cultural Center & Museum, Oklahoma City, on visitor experience and script development. The all-Native staff is headed by executive director Jim Pepper Henry. Project consultants also include Jim Volkert, Redmond Barnett, and RAA Design. Alice will soon begin work on interpretive exhibits for two buildings at the University of Oregon; Deady and Unthank halls have been the focus of a denaming/renaming process initiated by the Black Student Task Force. With exhibit designer Chanin Santiago, Alice is facilitating volunteer exhibit planning efforts for Oregon's Cottage Grove Museum and Sheridan Museum of History. With co-author Ann Craig (Exhibit Makeovers, 2nd edition), Alice will co-teach a second round of AASLH online courses in exhibit development in 2018. Ann and Alice will co-facilitate an AASLH Exhibit Makeovers workshop in Charlotte, North Carolina, March 5-6, 2018.

Organizational Coach

Alice honed her managerial and problem-solving skills as department head at a large museum and director of two smaller nonprofits. As a coach she’s always in your corner, helping you cope, plan, and succeed. Careful analysis and collaborative exploration inform her specific, practical recommendations. Through training, encouragement, and guidance, Alice helps build individual capabilities and organizational strengths.

Focus On:

New and Improved! The second edition of Exhibit Makeovers is now available.

Exhibit Makeovers: A Do-It-Yourself Workbook for Small Museums, Second Edition

By Alice Parman, Ann Craig, Lyle Murphy, Liz White, and Lauren Willis (AltaMira Press, 2017).

Read the review in Museum, July/August 2008

Since its publication in 2008, Exhibit Makeovers has been a useful do-it-yourself handbook for museum staff and volunteers. Exhibit Makeovers is a workbook that provides grounding in interpretive principles, how-to-advice, step-by-step guidance, and moral support for in-house exhibit planning and design.

The revised and expanded 2nd edition preserves the supportive tone and easy-to-follow steps that make the original Exhibit Makeovers so user-friendly. Significant revisions—especially in the technology arena—and additions make this new edition a must-have addition to any museum’s toolkit:

  • New emphasis on visitor input, with step-by-step guidelines for evaluation studies during planning and design.
  • New text and worksheets to guide development of interactives, and ensure varied levels of visitor participation.
  • Focus on affordable software to help with exhibit planning and design, as well as low- cost technologies that can vary and deepen the visitor experience.
  • Brand-new chapters on exhibit design, production, and installation, written by the experienced team responsible for in-house exhibits at a thriving, mid-size museum.

Following the same pattern as the 2008 original, the revised Exhibit Makeovers guides users through step-by-step processes of a single-case makeover, development of a new exhibit, and renovation/renewal of an entire gallery or museum.

Alice recommends:

Interpreting Difficult History, by Julia Rose (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). Dr. Rose draws up years of firsthand experience as a staff member and volunteer at a historic plantation in Louisiana. Grounded in research (this is a rewrite her dissertation), the book offers principles and guidance for developing exhibits that ethically represent difficult histories, as well as a rubric for evaluating people's readiness to entertain new information that may contradict long-held beliefs. A fascinating and useful resource.

Polly McKenna-Cress and Janet A. Kamien, Creating Exhibitions: Collaboration in the Planning, Development, and Design of Innovative Experiences (Wiley, 2013). A comprehensive guide to museum-based exhibit development, with an emphasis on organization and process. Fascinating case studies make this book a gold mine for practitioners.

Art of Relevance, by Nina Simon (Museum 2.0, 2016). Nina's experiences as a museum director inform this thoughtful book, along with case studies from her excellent Museum 2.0 blog. Read more here.

Stephanie Weaver's excellent book, Creating Great Visitor Experiences: A Guide for Museums, parks, Zoos, Gardens, & Libraries, offers structured steps for making your museum more welcoming and rewarding for all, in a DIY format. Click here to learn more, and while you're at it, take a look at Stephanie's richly informative website.

© Alice Parman, Ph.D., 2004-2009. All rights reserved.