Makers of Museums and Exhibitions
What we're good at
Whether we are dealing with the preservation of heritage, or promoting science as a world view, our work is about critically evaluating the evidence and finding creative ways to make it accessible to readers, viewers, and visitors.
Totem Media provides turnkey solutions to exhibitions and museums. All core competencies reside in the company, giving clients security and confidence that their projects will be completed on time and within budget. Exhibition planning typically comprises research, narrative development; exhibition design; multimedia and interactive media design and development; film and audio installations; as well as project management of the entire enterprise. Post opening, curatorial services are provided to ensure smooth operational and exhibition functionality.
Archives are at the heart of all Totem Media projects. We build archives, but we also investigate archives across the world for materials related to the projects we are working on. When we were developing the Moruleng Cultural Precinct for the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela, we found hundreds of photographs of early twentieth century Bakgatla life and related research materials by the renowned anthropologist Isaac Schapera in the collection of the Royal Anthropological Society in London. Totem Media negotiated the digitisation of the materials, and repatriation and usage by the Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela for exhibition and educational use.
Dialogue lies at the heart of conflict resolution, knowledge production, innovation and just being able to make sense of what is going on. We are surrounded by information demanding our attention. Being sure of what is reliable is becoming more difficult to assess. Conversations that succeed in producing powerful explanations and practical solutions take critical and creative skill. To this end, using insights from history and progressive pedagogy, Totem Media together with MindBurst Workshop designed a workshop process, ‘Having Difficult Conversations’, to create guidelines for productive dialogue.
Totem Media thinks hard about the educational outcomes of each project from the very inception until its launch. As much as we seek to entertain, we also endeavour to educate and enlighten- we believe that learning need never be boring! Our ideal is to develop educational materials alongside our exhibitions. However, if the scope of the project doesn’t allow for this we ensure that our exhibition materials and interactive activities have intrinsic educational value.
Human communities have always relied on their storytellers, their mythologies, their oral traditions, their poets, and their playwrights. In the 21st century, the role of informing memory and inspiring the future increasingly lies in the hands of the world’s most powerful producers and distributors of film and television. The power that films must reach individuals and inform their identity, is unprecedented in the history of storytelling.
Totem Media’s strategic use of film in exhibitions has been a vital ingredient to the success of those exhibitions. Our style of filmmaking allows for the people it represents to speak for themselves, but combines this with high production value. Totem Media always maintains editorial independence.
Totem Media is committed to responsible and sustainable exhibition design and production. This includes trying to ensure that communities where projects are based are fully involved in the development process, and have the capacity to take ownership of the completed project.
We ask ourselves these questions before taking on projects:
- Is this project the best solution, or does it provide the best outcome, to the situation at hand?
- Will it benefit local communities and stakeholders and are they included in the development process?
- Will the project be sustainable in the long term?
Totem Media has in the past turned down or renegotiated projects if we cannot answer these questions to our satisfaction. We will not take on financially and socially unsustainable projects simply to get the job.
Knowledge consumption has been radically transformed in the last few years. Through ever-developing technologies, knowledge has been allowed to burst out of its limited, conventional, representations. Traditional displays and exhibits have been replaced by more interactive, technology-driven, immersive experiences. These exhibitions promise active participation from viewers rather than the passive reception of information. Websites and mobile phones give exhibitions life far beyond their walls, inviting ongoing engagement. Totem Media’s team of designers, filmmakers, and interactive display specialists are all intimately involved from the start of each project, participating in the brainstorming and creation of content, not just the implementation thereof.