From Attic to Showroom

Hello Readers!

About a year ago, a family came into the museum with an old dusty box. Inside this box were two paintings that had been in said box for decades. Upon inspection of the paintings and the canvases we confirmed they were painted by Susanne Small. Susanne grew up in the house on the property of the museum and we have many of her works on site. The funds were mustered to have the works cleaned and conserved, and plans for an exhibit were put in place.


Being the museum nerd I am, I thought it would be interesting for the exhibit to be about the process of collection, conservation and display of artifacts. The exhibit was called “From Attic to Showroom” and it included the two paintings, artifacts from the artists life, and a menagerie of hats. Why hats, you ask? The hats had not been on display before, and the exhibit had a very “tea time” feel already, so of course beautiful hats would only add to the ambiance.


Photo Jun 23, 9 41 27 AM

For the interpretive boards I wanted to use the shape of framed photos, but without actual frames. Instead I made three boards of varying sizes, of the same color palette with all of the main information for the exhibit. The boards discuss the Acquisition of the paintings, the conservation process, and their significance to Kankakee County.


Photo Jun 23, 9 41 05 AM

After adding several photos to the layout, I still was not happy with the design. There were a few more small facts I wanted to add, so  I took a photo of one of the artists  works we have displayed within her childhood home. It had all the colors of the three main boards, while distinguishing it from the other designs.(The little known fact that the pattern is from one of her paintings is my favorite secret)  I added some facts to each of the small detail boards about the difference between restoration and conservation, the average amounts of artifacts displayed in museums, and the painting techniques used by the artist.


A table was also added to the exhibit with some of the artists tools, more about her schooling, and a digital frame with photos from the conservator.

Photo Jun 23, 9 40 52 AMPhoto Jun 23, 9 41 12 AM

On to the hats! 



Hannah and I had a fun afternoon sorting through the museums hat collection. We narrowed down our favorites and displayed them on hat racks recently purchased from a going out of business sale at a department store.

Photo Jun 23, 9 39 46 AM
For the hat racks on the wall we painted spare pieces of wood and attached cabinet knobs to them to hang the hats from.

Photo Jun 23, 9 40 41 AM

We displayed some really great illustrations on the wall next to the hats along with some vintage hat boxes.



Photo May 31, 7 01 14 PM

Being the Art History nerd I am, this exhibit was one of my favorites to make (I say that for all of them, don’t I?) . Art exhibits are always the perfect mix of what I saw myself curating in college and what I enjoy designing now.

  • What I loved: designing the boards
  • What I learned: sometimes you just have to glue the cabinet knobs on the fake wood

Thanks for reading!


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