Exhibitions are developed to represent the culture, document the trends, or establish the historical narrative of a certain place and time. Throughout history exhibitions have taken on many forms to support various institutions, ranging from churches to monarchies and cities.
While all exhibitions use the environment to communicate, they diverge in the goals of their narratives. Educational museum exhibitions focus on interpreting a specific subject, theme or story; while corporate and institutional exhibitions use interpretation as a marketing device or to support a place. Trade shows and showroom displays are the most focused, marketing a specific product or service. These different goals not only reflect in diverging narrative approaches, but also in how much money will be invested, the duration of the design process, the nature of the collaborative effort, and the longevity of the final product.
If there is a common thread among the divergent disciplines it is in the design process itself. Exhibition standsmay tell different stories in different environments, but they are consistent in the way they require collaborative effort to succeed, their need for a clear narrative approach, and the way they have to balance the needs of creating a space with communicating a message.