Creating a framework that mitigates controversy in exhibition design: Saudi women, a case study




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De Montfort University


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Peer reviewed


Museums today have the possibility of acting as a social changer or influencer within a community by exhibiting current topics, emotional issues, or counter-cultural subjects for the further education and inspiration of visitors. As museum exhibition design becomes more multifaceted and design teams more specialised, the essence of planning, co- ordinating and increasing the value of the design process is becoming more significant. Therefore, the researcher proposes that a multi-disciplinary model is necessary to improve existing museum exhibition design process (MEDP) models by including controversy management. This study looks at the best management options available to professionals in the exhibition design industry confronted by controversy and affected by censorship issues. It also investigates the theory of design process models and museum exhibitions as a means of developing an MEDP model and gains a comprehensive look at how design process models are currently used in controversial museum exhibitions. It aims to establish a process framework specifically for museum exhibitions with controversial content, which can be used as a design aid to increase the effective use of design and management information. Research methods comprise of an exploratory study of literature and collected data, the development of surveys, interviews, and case studies and their analysis in terms of MEDP methodology. The research examines theoretical models and undertakes a number of case studies to examine how design concepts and controversy are simultaneously managed in real-world practice. These case studies are used to observe two women’s exhibitions and to provide an overview of practical processes in the design development of museum exhibitions. In effect, the researcher has created a backdrop which differentiates the developed framework from previous frameworks that have been done before. The researcher developed a different framework as a result of the shortcomings and what has been done before. The framework was then evaluated by experts in a Delphi study for its capability in managing controversy whilst mitigating censorship. The research contributes to understanding the process involved in managing and designing controversial exhibitions internationally, and in Saudi Arabia specifically. The main outcome of this research is a special case to investigate controversial issues in an environment which imposes both cultural and social constraints, and present a design framework that may be used as a benchmark for design professionals in situations which involve exhibiting controversial content.





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