The most important part of your National History Day Exhibit project is your research and your writing and the way you present the HISTORY that you are telling. You do this with words, but the visual presentation of that history is also important, or this would just be a research paper and not an exhibit. So you've done your research, you've written your text and now you are ready to think about the visual presentation of your information.
Each year the Hoover Library and Museum staff gives workshops to hundreds of Iowa students on how to make their National History Day exhibits relevant and interesting on a shoestring budget. We have decided to make these web pages so we can help those students who want to check back on things we said, and for those students who can't make it to one of our presentations.
So, the first thing you need to do is go to the National History Day website and re-read (we're assuming here that you've all been good and read everything at the NHD website already) the pages on how to do an exhibit and the rules for making an exhibit. I need to make this point very clear: IF THERE IS ANYTHING ON THIS WEBSITE THAT GOES AGAINST WHAT THE NHD PEOPLE SAY, GO WITH WHAT NHD SAYS, NOT WHAT WE SAY. We know museum exhibits. We are not experts on NHD exhibits and their rules. We'd hate to have you be disqualified because of some mistake on this site. Check and double check the NHD rules. That said, if you find something on these pages that doesn't jive with what NHD says, please let us know so we can change it (please use National History Day in the subject line so I don't think it's SPAM and delete it.)
So once you've done all that twice, take a look at these topics. We have divided this NHD exhibit "help" section into 5 parts. In many of these sections we will show you examples from exhibits we have done here at the museum--these are on a much larger scale than you will be doing, but the basic ideas of design are the same. We skipped some stuff like what to make your panels out of, because the NHD website has such good info on that already.
1. How to Relate the Topic to the Design of the Exhibit, in which we discuss the overall feel of your exhibit and how to match up the visual stuff with your topic.
2. Interesting Exhibit Design, in which we discuss all sorts of fun stuff like choosing an appropriate color, where to put stuff on your panels, photo sizes, and other things that make your exhibit go from ho-hum to KAZOWIE! There's so much info here that it takes up 2 huge pages of info.
3. Fonts and Type Faces, in which we discuss all the cool fonts in the world and how they go hand and hand with a good visual presentation and where to find them.
4. How Do I Do That? (a virtual hands-on demonstration), in which we show you with photos how to attach a photo to fomecore, how to cut fomecore with a knife and how to other stuff.
5. Sources, in which we show you that there are lots of places to find ideas and stuff to use in your exhibit. Some of it for free!
If, after having read all of the stuff at the NHD site and our site, you are still just stumped on how to do something, you may drop us an e-mail, but please, no broad, general e-mails that just say something like "What kind of an exhibit should I do?" or "Where should I put everything on my panel?" We can't research it or design it for you, but we can answer specific questions on how to do something such as "What do you think would be the best way to attach a model airplane to my panel?" (answer is sticky-backed velcro or hang it from fish line) Please put "National History Day Question" in the subject line, so it doesn't get deleted with the spam.
Good luck and have fun!!