Pop Up Museum

Bring people together in conversation through stories, art, and objects.

5 Step Guide to

Pop Up Museum


Pop Up Museum "The desire to uplift, inspire, and empower is an integral part of my identity. I created the Pop Up Museum in 2011 in an effort to lift up the unique perspective of the individual, inspire participants to listen, and empower people to share their stories. I am so pleased to see the Pop Up Museum evolve to be of service to communities on a greater scale. I wish you all the best in your own journey" - Michelle DelCarlo, Creator of PopUp Museum

5 Steps

Who? Someone who...

Resource Checklist


Pop Up Museums happen on one day but you'll need to plan a month or two in advance.

Choose a Theme

The theme sets the tone for a Pop Up Museum. Once a theme is chosen, people bring objects on that topic to share. Here are some questions to consider when brainstorming a theme:

Who’s your audience?

You want a theme that is appropriate and attractive to your intended audience. If it’s a public Pop Up Museum, be mindful to different sensitivities.

Is the theme concrete? Can you picture something to bring?

Because Pop Up Museums focus on objects, it helps to have a concrete component to the theme. Tools, Toys, Scrapbooks, or Collections are some examples. The more abstract the theme, the more challenging it may be for a prospective participant to think of something to bring.

Is the theme narrative?

The Pop Up Museum is a way of storytelling through objects. Does the theme prompt a story? Themes like Objects of Conflict or Growth and Decay offer evocative possibilities for different forms of participation.

Does the theme excite you?

One of the best ways to choose a theme is to think about what excites you. If you’re passionate about a theme, others will most likely share your enthusiasm.

Need a Theme? How about one of these?

  • Homemade
  • Trash or Treasure
  • Ordinary Miracles
  • Taking Risks
  • Lost and Found

Choose a time, date and location

The date and time of a Pop Up Museum will depend on your schedule, venue, and goals. When are people most likely to participate? Is there a time when a community is already ready to engage? It’s often easiest to plan a Pop Up Museum for a time and place when people are already naturally congregating.

When thinking about a location, ask yourself:

  • Is it public or private?
  • Who owns or manages the site?
  • How many people can it accommodate?
  • Is it accessible?
  • If it is outdoor, what will weather be like?
  • Can it accommodate food or music?
  • Can it accommodate tables and chairs?
  • Is there parking?
  • Will it invite walk-in traffic, or will it be an intimate affair for people who already know to attend?

Work with a collaborator

You can host a Pop Up Museum on your own, but collaborating with another group can be a way to reach new audiences, form new partnerships, and get extra hands to help run the event.

It works well to meet with a collaborator first and then brainstorm a theme together.

Invite People

How do you get the word out?

That mostly depends on the nature of your Pop Up Museum and who you are trying to reach. In the best case scenario, you and any collaborators have specific ideas in mind about who might participate and the forms of communication that will work best for them.

If you are working with a collaborator, it is incredibly important to learn who their community/audience is and how they communicate with them. Sometimes, a collaborator goes into a Pop Up Museum expecting you to bring the people. It’s important for them to understand that this is an event for and with them and their constituency, and that everyone is part of getting the word out. That might mean different communication platforms, languages, or approaches to promotion.

Here are some ways you can promote your Pop Up Museum:

Social media :facebook, instagram, twitter

Your institution’s website and newsletter (if you have one)

Blast a brief description of the event through your institutional website and/or newsletter. Make sure your collaborator is prepared to do this as well.

Contact local press

Send a press release to local press and ask them to write a story or blurb on the event.

Flyers and signs

Make and distribute flyers around town. It helps to have an indicating mark, like an A-frame sign, outside of the event.

Word of mouth

There’s nothing more simple than good ol’ word of mouth. Tell your friends. Tell your friends to tell their friends.

Host the Event

Now that you’ve picked a theme, found a location, set the date, and advertised the event, it’s time to pop!

You'll find a full guide to facilitation on the day and some resources and materials to help you out in the PDF Guide