New Workshop offered: Exhibit Assessment

April 16, 9:30am-3:30pm



IAM/NIU Museum Studies Professional Development Workshop:

Using Beverly Serrell’s Framework for Assessing Excellence in Exhibitions from a Visitor-Centered Perspective as a Vehicle for Exhibition Improvement


Northern Illinois University

Altgeld Hall 315 & NIU Art Museum

DeKalb, IL 60115


Workshop Leaders:

Sandy Denninger and Peter Van Ael



9:30-10:00    Check In, Altgeld Hall, Room 315

10:00-11:00  Introduction to Beverly Serrell’s Framework for Assessing Excellence in Exhibitions from a Visitor-Centered Perspective

11:00-12:00  NIU Art Museum: Visit Data:BIG/-Driven/Visualized and complete Framework Call-outs section

12:00-1:00    Lunch on own (Brown Bag or several options in Holmes Student Center and Founder’s Library)

                        Complete Assess the Aspects and Rate the Criteria components of the Framework

1:00-2:15       Altgeld 315: Framework Assessment Comparison Meeting

2:15-3:30       NIU Art Museum: Using Framework for Excellence as a Tool for Exhibition Improvement    



Peter Van Ael serves as the Coordinator of the Jack Olson Gallery of the School of Art and is a member of the faculty of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program in Museum Studies at Northern Illinois University. His training and expertise in the visual arts is broad and encompasses activity as a practicing artist, art historian, and curator of exhibitions and collections. He obtained his BFA from the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, and completed his MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He received an MA in Art History from Webster University St. Louis and earned his MA in Museum Science from Texas Tech University. Peter Van Ael came to NIU from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he was director of the University Art Gallery and assistant professor of art. He previously was director of the Talley Gallery at Bemidji State University in Bemidji, Minnesota, and also oversaw the university's permanent art collections. In the NIU Museum Studies Program he teaches courses on Curatorial Practices, Museum Exhibitions and Interpretation, and Preventive Conservation. Peter serves the Illinois museum profession as a member of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Association of Museums (IAM) since 2014, serving as Vice President of the association from fall 2016 through fall 2018.


Sandy Denninger
After earning a BA in Art History and Anthropology from Northern Illinois University in 2004, I have worked for a number of museum institutions, with a preference for small museum environments. I have performed every duty from strategic planning to educating preschool aged children. My most gratifying experiences were in the design and construction of temporary exhibitions where careful attention was given to reconstructing local stories in an engaging, accurate, but also budget-friendly manner. After returning to NIU to earn a Graduate Certification in Museum Studies, my coursework with Peter Van Ael resulted in several future evaluations of student exhibition projects and a temporary position as an Adjunct Faculty Instructor for the Curatorial Practice course as part of the Museum Studies program. With plans to return to the museum full-time in the next few years, I am currently enjoying leading book discussions and special programs at my daughter’s school and volunteering at my hometown museum, the Elmhurst History Museum.