Chronicling Resistance: The Exhibition began with (PACSCL) The Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries in 2018 with two primary goals:
1) To amplify stories of resistance in Philadelphia’s historical archival collections.
2) To preserve records of today’s acts of resistance.
With generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and additional funding from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the Chronicling Resistance project expanded into an archives and exhibitions project in 2020 that would be on display from the Summer of 2022 through the beginning of 2023.
Creative Repute was hired in 2022 to develop the exhibition’s branding, design marketing materials, assist with the layout design, help install the exhibit, and develop a website that summarizes the archival research work completed by the eight fellows. Our team was brought on board because of many of our team member’s roots in Philadelphia, our shared familiarity with the Chronicling Resistance team’s work throughout the years, and our founder’s background with public art and exhibitions. Creative Repute’s team is comprised of folx on the margins, which reflects the Chronicling Resistance project. Our values are aligned.
With a large number of stakeholders, activists, and team members involved in the project and a significant amount of archival material that needed to be formatted into a cohesive display, organizing the inventory and identifying the design needs of each collection that would be included in the final exhibition was a challenge. We needed to consider a wide range of stakeholders, including the custodial staff, that needed a say in the materials used, considering they would be cleaning some of the display.
Budget and time constraints were other challenging factors that revealed themselves after the Discovery Process. We needed to manage unexpected and unaccounted-for tasks, such as coordination with multiple print shops, each with different specifications on how they’d like to receive files.
On such a large-scale project with a pre-determined exhibition opening date, we often would face conflicting priorities that we needed to mediate to balance our original expectations with new considerations. For example, sometimes there was a desire to change the exhibition items on display—therefore it was helpful to set firm deadlines and design the exhibit to have some flexibility in order to allow us to decide how images could be altered on-site or arranged on the walls during installation. We designed detailed floor plans as general guidance on how to section the exhibition; however, we also needed to remain open to changes.
Constant communication with stakeholders was critical in informing everyone of the project goals, deadlines, and next steps. However, managing communication among a large team with many moving parts created many emails from many departments, making it challenging to balance reading and responding to communications while performing tasks.
The project team used many available organizational tools to manage and track deliverables. Tools like spreadsheets, Bootcamp, and Notion to track inventory, designs, and print specifications for archival reproductions, marketing materials, and exhibit design (e.g., directional signage, title cards).
Before starting, we conducted a budget breakdown and allocated a fixed budget for each phase of the project. We regularly reviewed the budget to ensure we remained on track.
Multiple design teams were assigned to various aspects of the project in an effort to help compartmentalize priorities. One team focused on print marketing materials while another team worked on digital (social media). We assigned a third team to the website development and ensured all teams collaborated internally. In the light of the aesthetic consistency, the Creative Brief and Style Guide were utilized by all teams.
The leadership team served as the main point of contact for communication, streamlining the flow of information.
We employed an agile methodology on this project. As a result, weekly internal and client meetings were necessary in order to address newly developed project needs.
The Free Library of Philadelphia hosted the Chronicling Resistance exhibition through an extended close date of January 31st, 2023. Yolanda Wisher served as Consulting Curator while Mariam Williams was Project Director. The Fellows were Germaine Ingram, Nia Minard, Wit Lopez, Katherine Antarikso, Charlyn Griffith-Oro, Malkia Okech, Khaliah D. Pitts, and Lan Dinh.
With many moving parts in this project, Creative Repute is most proud of completing the project on budget and schedule.
The Chronicling Resistance exhibition undoubtedly amplified the voices of the local activists and artists. It allowed them to showcase their discoveries in the institutional archives. It must be noted that this project cannot and does not attempt to make up for centuries of suppressed voices.
Creative Repute takes pride in collaborating in designing a platform to bring these previously buried voices to the forefront.
Through a visually appealing website that is search engines optimized, archival materials can now reach wider audiences far beyond Philadelphia.
Margo Beckham of Beyond Beckham LLC created a virtual tour of the entire exhibition so visitors can experience the exhibition online, even after its physical closure.
First and foremost, many meaningful relationships were formed during the life of this project. Our limits and capacities were put to the test, and we were able to rise above the challenges. We are proud to partner up with our client to bring this 4-year vision to life.
This project further emphasized the significance of teamwork with effective communication. Through positive feedback, communication, and shared goals we managed to overcome challenges and issues. The impact of joint problem-solving and idea generation was demonstrated.
This demanding project allowed us to explore our limitations and ultimately led to personal and professional growth. Just like with any other challenging project, we were able to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves.
“The design of an exhibition, marketing materials, and website for this project was an enormous undertaking, and I think everyone involved learned a lot from it. I really appreciate [Creative Repute] for seeing the project through its many drafts, to its end.” – Mariam Williams, Project Director for Chronicling Resistance, Free Library of Philadelphia