An Arts-Based Educational Exhibit on Menopausal Hot Flashes

Janet S. Carpenter, PhD, RN, FAAN; Mark Kesling, BS, MS; Karen K. Schmidt, MSN, RN


Menopause. 2019;26(9):1062-1067. 

In This Article


The Development Process

The exhibit concept stemmed from a series of sketches created by the first author as a way of organizing thoughts about the topics that could be included in an educational resource for the public. The sketches emerged spontaneously via the creative process and were not drawn systematically according to an a priori plan. It quickly became apparent that the resource could be artistic and visual. The literature searches revealed the value of the creative arts as described above.

As the exhibit concept took shape, the first author sought feedback iteratively and informally. Twelve people reacted to a verbal description of the exhibit idea and 10 reviewed sketches and a concept paper. The 22 people included 15 national leaders in women's health or arts-based dissemination of science, four female faculty colleagues, and the director and two staff members of an international menopause professional organization. These individuals provided feedback on the overall concept, scope, and breadth of the exhibit. Although there were some discussions about whether to include other menopausal symptoms, the consensus was that a focus on hot flashes was appropriate based on the amount of information to be conveyed and fact that an exhibit like this had not been previously attempted. Thus, additional information was not added to the exhibit from this feedback.

In the process of obtaining feedback, the first author started an informal partnership with the second author who is an experienced exhibit designer and leader of a nonprofit organization connecting art, science, and the community. The second author assembled artists and an engineer to be part of an exhibit design team. The design team further vetted the concept and produced professional illustrations from the initial sketches.

Some of the professional sketches were included in applications to fund various portions of the work related to the exhibit. The teams conducting the funded work consist of scientists and artists. Internal funding has provided a means to develop some of the exhibit pieces, video-document the exhibit work, and travel to show the exhibit. External funding provided a means to obtain focus group feedback to refine the exhibit and measures of its impact as well as hold public viewing events to obtain additional feedback on a prototype exhibit. The prototype exhibit consisted of 12 professionally designed graphic renderings of what the full-scale exhibit and exhibit pieces will look like, written explanations of the exhibit pieces (in English and Spanish), a professionally designed logo, and a 32-inch foam board model with miniaturized three-dimensional printed exhibit pieces. The data obtained in these funded projects are published elsewhere[46,47] and will be useful for identifying target audiences, securing exhibit display venues/locations, marketing, and designing research to evaluate the impact of the full-scale exhibit. To be able to build and show the full-scale exhibit locally, nationally, and beyond, there will be an ongoing need for funding.