Pratt BFA Communications Design Thesis

Alexandra McMahon Graphic Design

Deconstructing Dido: Perceiving Art and History

Art History
Education Design
Exhibition Design
Fine Art

The established value of studying history, (and the reason it’s taught in schools) is to understand and evaluate just how the events of the past have shaped the present. The issue with history learning is that hearing and reading about history presents the knowledge as a series of trivial facts, and not as lived experiences. This project will examine one of the main venues for conveying historical information, the museum.

If it is true that history repeats itself, and therefore it is useful to learn from history’s lessons, then why is history learning so forgettable, inaccessible, academic, and detached? In my thesis, I want to explore how communications design can intersect with history to make the experience more memorable, engaging, and relevant.

I will design an exhibition for an existing cultural institution which presents their history in as engaging a way as possible. This would build upon the ideas that current museum websites and “virtual exhibitions” create, but attempt to tell it in a way that is more congruent with how people think about their own experiences. This project would create as many connections as possible between the story and what is important and relevant about it. It would also slow down the process of interacting with a piece of history, in the hopes that the visitors will leave more profoundly informed.