American Alliance of Museums (AAM)

Indicators of Excellence in Museum Exhibitions

While many exhibitions achieve a competent level of professionalism, each year there are a few exhibitions that achieve excellence by surpassing standards of practice in scholarship interpretation, content, integration of audience voice/evaluation, and/or design or by introducing innovations that stretch the boundaries of accepted practice. Such exhibitions are highly distinguished and serve as models of the capacity of museum exhibitions to provide transforming experiences visitors so often attribute to them. Some specific indicators of exhibition excellence are:

  • An aspect of the exhibition design is innovative
  • The exhibition offers a new perspective or new insight on a topic
  • The exhibition presents new information
  • The exhibition synthesizes and presents existing knowledge and/or collection materials in a surprising or provocative way
  • The exhibition includes audience voices in a new or innovative way reflected through exhibition design or content
  • The exhibition includes innovative uses of media, materials, and other design elements
  • The exhibition is particularly beautiful, exceptionally capable of engendering a personal, emotional response, and/or profoundly memorable in a constructive way
  • The exhibition evokes responses from viewers that are evidence of a transforming experience.

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