Monday, December 22, 2014

Museum Men

I have been watching a new show on the History Channel called “Museum Men”.  It’s about a small custom fabrication (design/build) shop in Florida that builds (at least primarily) museum exhibits.  In some ways the shop is very much like what I work in, and it is interesting to see how projects play out in their shop. 
On the flip side, the show brings up a number of concerns (which I am sure is true for every industry that is boiled down to a short reality tv series).
                -Their timeline from project initiation to installation is about a month.  At times it seems as though they have a month of fabrication time, either way, this isn’t very realistic or practical.
                -How the content is developed seems a little odd.  Perhaps we just aren’t seeing the nuts and bolts here, but the show goes from a conversation about an element, to going forward full steam.  In fact in an episode about building Chuck Yeager’s Supersonic Jet, they were half way through building the piece when the owner comes in with goods news and bad news.  Good – they client was spending more money, bad – they jet is too large and a new piece needs to be built and installed with only the remaining 2 weeks that had been previously scheduled.  Seems like the client is paying extra to have the jet redone- but this seems like a pretty major detail that should have been worked out on paper before anything was built. 
                -Drawings and research, as well as what is being delivered seems to be at the owner’s discretion.  Once thy wondered if the jet could be installed upside down?  Even if the unit is a design build contract, the client should be signing off on something – including what it will be and look like once it is installed.  It seems like they move forward into construction before they even know all of the details about what they are constructing.
                -Perhaps a few all night work calls still exists in the industry – but showing the tight timelines and then encouraging these work practices doesn’t really help clients understand what we can reasonably accomplish. 
                -And a 1 hour load in is just a little crazy. 

I can only hope that the bigger picture is edited out, but I am left with a connotation that it shouldn’t take more than a month to design, build, and install a major piece of exhibition scenery, which is not really feasible.  Now there are a couple of things to note – they do mention not taking on much additional work – it does seem like they primarily work on one project at a time.  Whether bad or good it is interesting to see some of their processes and get an inside look!