Traveling Classroom History Exhibit

Traveling Exhibitions

The Museum’s traveling exhibitions have appeared in 195 US cities and 49 US states and in Canada, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Israel, and Serbia. Presented at a wide variety of venues, these exhibitions bring the history and lessons of the Holocaust beyond the Museum’s walls, reaching audiences from the smallest towns to the largest cities.

The Museum exhibitions program is sponsored in part by the Lester Robbins and Sheila Johnson Robbins Traveling and Special Exhibitions Fund established in 1990 and Dr. and Mrs. Sol Center.

10 Tips for Museum Exhibit Design Success

If you’re trying to design a permanent or temporary museum exhibit, you already know that they make the perfect outing. With a successful museum exhibit, you can provide individuals and families with a unique way to learn and experience history, inspiration, art, and wonder. But it raises the question – how do you create great museum exhibit design?

Successful museum exhibit design enhances the experience your visitors receive and the learning or entertainment value they take from it. No matter what you’re exhibiting, we have some suggestions that can help any museum create a winning display. Here are our top 10 tips for designing a great museum experience:

1. Have “Visitor Personas” and a Clear Audience in Mind

Before you can start designing a successful museum exhibit, you should aim to understand who your target visitors are and what they want from the experience. Creating and targeting specific customer personas is a great way to achieve that. If you’re part of an already established museum, you can start by evaluating the demographics of your existing customers. If you’re building a new or temporary installation, you can start by looking at the demographics of your surrounding area. Either way, you can start to create “visitor personas” based on the data and who you think your subject matter will most interest and attract. As you start planning, you’ll want to tailor your museum exhibit design towards those personas.

2. Tell a Story (and Stories Within the Story!)

There is no better way to make your visitors feel like they are a part of art or history or fully immersed than through the art of museum exhibit storytelling. At first, you might be tempted to focus on only one broad story per each one of your exhibits. But don’t think of signs as only being able to identify and date the artifacts. While that’s an important component to successful museum exhibit design, it’s missing one key element – the stories within the story. You can use signage to also tell specific, detailed stories about the pieces that fit within the larger framework of your display. That serves as an interesting way to further immerse and educate your visitors. As humans, it’s the stories behind historical artifacts and grand paintings that help us feel connected to them. You can use signs, banners, interactive kiosks, and technology all throughout your museum exhibit to tell those mini-stories.

3. Create a Linear Flow Through the Museum Exhibit

Just as most stories are best told in a linear, chronological manner, so are museum exhibits. You want to design the experience to “walk” visitors through history. It’s important to create a sense of time and place in every part of the display. This is especially true when creating an exhibit about history, inventions, or evolution of the natural world. But you can do more than arrange the display along a timeline. For compelling museum exhibit design, use exhibit graphics, labels, signage, sounds, and interactive technology as visual cues. These can help you completely immerse your visitors in different time periods.

4. Use Graphic Design to Create Interest, Flow and Focus

The use of graphic design is vital to bring your museum exhibit to life. That can mean anything from signs and labels to banners and huge set pieces. On a basic level, signs and graphics can help organize the flow of traffic. They’re also one of the best tools for turning your museum exhibit into a themed environment. Instead of placing your visitors in the role of casual observers, you can immerse them in the experience. With the right environment, they’ll feel like active participants in history. The Kennedy Space Center exhibits are a great example, and how they make people feel like astronauts on the International Space Station.

5. Incorporate Interactive Learning With Gamification

Try leveraging the latest techniques from the gaming industry to create fun and interactive experiences for the kids. You’ll end up creating an experience the entire family can enjoy.The best part is that gamification can be incorporated into a museum exhibit design on any budget. You can consider low-tech options like incorporating a hidden “treasure hunt.” This involves hidden items into your visuals and graphics that families can walk through and find together. Or you can go high-tech, with clickable, interactive games on kiosks and digital displays. You can even consider the latest in AR (augmented reality). Whichever way you go, you can “gamify” the experience to help kids connect to and learn from your museum exhibit.

6. Embrace Technology in Your Museum Exhibit Design

We just mentioned the exciting possibilities that gaming tech offers. That’s just one part of all the great tech you can use. Integrating technology into your museum exhibit design can help capture and hold the attention of your visitors. Technology to consider might range from interactive kiosks to video monitors, but it can even go beyond your physical display. Audio and mobile apps are an innovative way for your visitors, especially the younger ones, to learn from and interact with your museum exhibit.

7. Present Art and Artifacts in Interesting Ways

When it comes to displaying the artwork or artifacts at the heart of your museum exhibit, you can apply our same tips for innovative product displays. First and foremost, make sure the items are easily visible. For small artifacts, you can bring them into view with the usual good lighting and elevated platforms. You can also add large graphics, hanging banners, or video screens next to them. With larger artifacts, it can be striking to counter expectations that they’ll be on the ground or a low platform. Instead, you can mount them to the wall or structure of your exhibit for a fresh perspective. The key is to make sure your display isn’t crowded so that each artwork or artifact can make an impact.

8. Divide Larger Exhibits into Sections

When it comes down to it, sometimes the easiest way to tell your story, create a linear flow, and build striking artifact displays is to break a larger exhibit into smaller sections. This can help make the information more digestible for your museum visitors. It also allows them to get a sense of completion as they move from section to section. Adopting this approach will allow you to get creative with your use of the walls and layout in your museum exhibit design. You can employ effective and dramatic storytelling through your choice of when to unveil different artifacts and information to people as they move through the exhibit.

9. Use Consumer-Centric Marketing to Generate Buzz

It doesn’t matter if you’re designing a small local display focused on the nearby community or a larger exhibit that relies on drawing visitors and tourists from afar. There has to be a buzz created around the museum exhibit to ensure steady foot traffic. When doing any museum marketing, you can create buzz by putting yourself into your customer’s perspective. First, figure out the main focal points of the display that will attract their interest. Then make sure you and your team talk those features up in your local press, community calendars, digital marketing (website, social media, and email campaigns), printed brochures, and more.

10. Design With Clearly Defined Goals as Your Road Map

We’ve talked about the different experiences your exhibit can offer your visitors, and the different elements you can incorporate. There’s one final step before you start designing. You have to decide what you want to achieve with your museum exhibit design. Are you trying to educate, entertain, or inspire? Do you want to make it fun for the family, or strike a serious note? You’ll be faced with so many decisions during the planning, design, and implementation. You should have clearly defined goals that you can fall back on. You can later use them to measure your museum design success as you build out the perfect experience for your visitors.

This website is based on an exhibition that opened at the National Museum of American History in November 2003. Objects pictured here may differ from those currently on view at the museum.

America on the Move replaces exhibits of road and rail transportation and civil engineering installed when the National Museum of American History opened as the Museum of History and Technology in 1964. These early exhibits were, for the most part, displays of artifacts chosen for their technological interest. Their labels described technological change. They were mostly devoid of human stories.

We wanted our new exhibits to be just as popular. But we wanted to engage a wider audience, an audience that has come to expect more from museums than objects in cases. And our new exhibit had to reflect the Museum’s new mission: American history. We would not do an exhibit about cars and trains, or even a transportation history exhibit. It would be an exhibit about transportation in American history.

Our exhibit would be about people and events. Who rode on the vehicles? What did they carry? Where did they go? How did they change the country? And why those things happened the way they did, and why it mattered, and still matters. We decided to examine four areas in which transportation shaped American history: communities, commerce, landscapes, and lives. And we focused on big themes of American history: urbanization and industrialization, immigration and migration, race relations, work and business.

Exhibits are complex enterprises. They combine many elements, serve many purposes, meet many needs. They can’t be all things to all people, but they should allow most visitors to enjoy, engage, and learn. We hope America on the Move does that.

This exhibition was made possible through the support of many generous donors.

New & Noteworthy

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Read the New Section “Genomics: Insights”

Articles written by promising researchers communicate the awesome science they're doing in the lab to inform, educate, and raise awareness about complex topics in genetics and genomics.

The Best 5-Minute Animation On DNA, Genetics, and Genomes Anywhere!

Our most popular teaching resource. This spunky explanation effortlessly informs students, parents, other teachers about how genetics works. Cleverly presented in "2D" and synchronized to a zippy soundtrack.

A Helpful History Tool: The Human Genome Timeline

From an Austrian garden to the international Human Genome Project with many learning stops along the way. See it now!

Celebrating Women in STEM: Making History

An interactive highlighting pioneering and inspirational women in STEM. Learn about their scientific discoveries that have made, and continue to make history.

Your Support Makes a Difference


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Teaching & Learning with Historic Places

Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) offers teaching tools and lesson plans to help educators engage young people with powerful stories representing America’s diverse history. Historic places in National Parks and in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places enliven history, social studies, geography, civics, and other subjects.

Historic places offer connections across time, encouraging empathy for the people who shaped our past. Students can connect their own local history with national events and themes. TwHP materials enable teachers and students to learn from places without leaving their learning spaces. By examining and questioning readings, documents, maps, photographs, and by engaging in activities, students connect these locations to broad themes of American history.

TwHP resources help educators, interpreters, and curious learners virtually explore and engage with our shared history.

Teaching with Historic Places is included in the African American Civil Rights Network, which encompasses historic sites and interpretive programs associated with the African American Civil Rights movement in the United States.

(H)our History Lessons

A shorter model, these one hour lessons can be used in the classroom and include readings, discussion questions, and activities.

Lesson Plans

Lessons include several readings, questions, and activities. Search lessons by state, theme, time period, and curriculum standard.

Curiosity Kits

Intended for families, historic site interpreters, and curious minds, these kits explore topics in US history and offer fun activities.


Enter the date of your visit above and see what is happening that day.

Through July 5, 2021

Stand Up Seattle: The Democracy Project

Following an election year like no other, Stand Up Seattle: The Democracy Project is an exploration of the power of self-government, engaging visitors in experiences that encourage them to take action now to create the change they want to see.

Permanent Exhibit

Bezos Center for Innovation

Explore how innovation shaped the Puget Sound region and changed the world. Through interactive exhibits, community and educational programs, and first-person insights from leading innovators, discover Seattle’s role as a nexus of big ideas and new directions.

Permanent Exhibit

True Northwest: The Seattle Journey

Discover how Puget Sound’s dramatic environment, diverse population, connections to the broader world, and inventive spirit have shaped its history.

Permanent Exhibit

Maritime Seattle

Maritime Seattle celebrates Seattle’s long relationship with water, and illustrates how maritime and industrial activities have shaped what the city has become.

We have a story for you.

CHM is open and ready to share Chicago stories with you as we continue our health and safety procedures. Ready to visit? Here’s what to know before you go.

We encourage visitors to purchase tickets in advance online. Museum capacity is limited to 275 people at a time (25%). Tickets will be timed-entry.

*Illinois Resident Children 18 and under are FREE

*Non-Illinois Resident Children 12 and under are FREE

Access to the Research Center is by appointment only. Find more information here.

City of Chicago residents receive a $2 discount (with valid I.D.)

Thank you to Wintrust for sponsoring free Museum admission for Illinois residents 18 & under

It pays to be a member. Admission is free for members of the Chicago History Museum, DuSable Museum, National Museum of Mexican Art, and National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture.

Free admission is granted to the following audiences:

US Armed Services: All active duty military and all veterans (with valid ID)

Chicago Police Department: All active duty (with valid ID)

Chicago Fire Department: All active duty (with valid ID)

Illinois Teachers (with valid ID)

Pre-Registered School Field Trips

Park Voyagers: Must show your pass.

Kids Museum Passport Holders: Must show your pass.

Museums for All: The Chicago History Museum is pleased to offer a discounted admission fee of $3 to individuals and families presenting an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and a valid form of photo ID. A maximum of four adults is allowed per EBT card.

Blue Star Museums: The Chicago History Museum is proud to participate in the Blue Star Museums program. Blue Star Museums offer free admission to active duty military, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, National Guard, and Reserve members, with up to five family members.
The program runs from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

WIC: The Museum offers a discounted admission fee of $3 with verification of participation.


Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark Street
Chicago, IL 60614


The Connecticut Historical Society’s Waterman Research Center is your point of access to the millions of objects, manuscripts, photographs, prints, books, maps, and historical documents in our collection. Begin your search here.

Due to Covid-19, access to the Waterman Research Center is by appointment only.

Researching at CHS

Here are a few things you should expect when arriving at the CHS to do research.

Digital Reproductions

Digital reproductions of images, manuscripts, and artifacts in the Connecticut Historical Society collection are available for personal, educational, and commercial use.

Research Tools

The catalogs and subject guides available online are a great introduction to the many other research tools available at the Connecticut Historical Society.

Independent Researchers for Hire

Need to hire someone to do your research for you?

Family History & Genealogy

The Connecticut Historical Society is a great place to start or continue research into your family history.

Credit Line, Citations, and Copyright

When using an image from the CHS collection in any way other than for personal use, there are two things to be aware of: the credit line and citations, and copyright.

Research Fellowships

The Connecticut Historical Society participates in the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC), which offers research fellowships to those who qualify.

Watch the video: The Traveling Classroom History Exhibit by HIYHF (January 2022).