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Interpretive Planning Contractor

American Swedish Institute

Interpretive Planning Contractor - Request for Qualifications

January 9, 2016

The American Swedish Institute seeks a contractor with interpretive planning experience to help create a long term interpretive plan for the Turnblad Mansion. 


This RFQ is open to firms that have previous experience working with museums and cultural centers to develop interpretive strategies. The intent of this RFQ is to have the firms under consideration provide a statement of qualifications, interest in the project, and ability to meet the outlined schedule.

Interpretive Plan Project Overview:

The American Swedish Institute (ASI) is seeking support for a comprehensive, long-range Interpretive Plan for the historic Turnblad Mansion. The Interpretive Plan is part of a larger comprehensive Master Plan that integrates efforts to assess, manage, and elevate the capacity and impact of the building, collections, exhibits, and programs to enhance the visitor experience. It will guide future exhibits in the Mansion, strengthen program creation, and give visitors a 21st century museum experience. A starting point for this planning will be “The Immigrant Contribution;” by creating a context to look at the history of immigration in Minnesota and create opportunities for visitors to relate that history to their experiences. It will show our visitors that while there may be differences between cultural groups, there are similarities between the common struggles new immigrants in Minnesota face in trying to adapt to American life.

Scope and Work Detail

The result of this project will be an Interpretive Plan that will guide the transitioning of the Turnblad Mansion into a 21st-century museum which 1) respects the spirit and character of the landmark building by restoring key elements of the landmark building to their original grandeur and make them accessible to the public; 2) provides plans for much-needed upgrades to climate control, electrical service/lighting, signage and casework, technology applications that adds more flexibility to reduce exhibition installation time and better accommodate object displays; 3) provides engaging entry points for the public to learn about the history of immigration in Minnesota and how it relates to the global conversation taking place around migration; 4) identify other interpretive themes

The American Swedish Institute, with the guidance of experienced museum consultants, will develop a long-term, comprehensive interpretive plan that will inform future exhibits and public uses in the Turnblad Mansion. 

Specific project activities should include:

Phase I: Preparation

A. This phase of the project includes an assessment of the existing conditions and potential capacities of the Mansion’s physical spaces – which spaces are best suited to public use due to location, size, dimension and orientation? What is the relationship between them? Which spaces are best suited for permanent exhibits, temporary exhibits, or programs? This effort will inform the future work required to create spaces that are structurally sound and determine electrical, A/V, and HVAC capacities.

B. This phase also includes a review of the strengths of ASI’s collections to explore what unique artifacts and stories related to the “Immigrant Contribution” are already documented at the institute. Research into the broader context of historic and modern immigration topics will help uncover additional ideas that can help illustrate this topic.

C. Review of the competitive market for immigration exhibits within the Twin Cities and

Midwest Region will uncover trends in the museum world and ensure ASI develops a unique message. Deeper research into at least two different case studies will help suggest approaches or methods that will inform the process. ASI has and continues to conduct important visitor studies to identify the existing and potential new audiences that will be reviewed during this phase.

Phase II: Inspiration and Exploration

A. Upon reflection of the material developed during Phase I our consultant and ASI staff would create a fundamental interpretive message and four to six subthemes that articulate the unique, significant, and compelling story of the Immigrant Contribution as presented at the Turnblad Mansion. This statement serves as a both a philosophical touchstone and practical outline of what future exhibits should be.

B. Once reviewed, revised, and approved by the stakeholders, this message will inform a schematic exhibit plan that defines the general message elements, locations, media, and visitor engagement opportunities for future exhibits.

Phase III: Integration

A. Once the draft plan is vetted, a final Interpretive Plan will be created following the framework developed by the National Association of Interpretation. It will deeply consider and reach better or best practice standards for: Management Objectives, Marketing Factors, Media Descriptions, Message Elements, Terminology, Visitor Experience, and Audience Research. It will attain good practice standards for: Advocacy, Civic Engagement, Partnership, Evaluation, Operational Commitment, Retail Operations, Staff/Volunteer Training, and Stakeholder Involvement.

It will deeply consider:

•             Message elements: central interpretive themes; two to four sub-themes

•             Exhibit suggestions

•             Signage and historical cohesiveness

•             Collections needs

•             Operational goals

•             Partnerships

•             Management objectives, short and long-term implementation strategies

•             Public and school programming

•             Audience analysis and visitor experience

•             Staff/volunteer training

•             Evaluation

•             Marketing

•             Retail Operations

Project Approach

The project approach is schematic design for an interpretive plan. Qualified

contractors will be asked to provide bids and schedules based on the aforementioned project scope. Any implementation or installation is not part of this project approach. 


This project is expected to be completed by November 1, 2017. 

Statements of Qualifications are due by 5:00 p.m. on January 20, 2016.

Project award is anticipated no earlier than January 23, 2016.

Project start date is anticipated on January 23, 2016.

Submittal of Proposal

Please submit a statement of interest and qualifications to:

Scott Pollock

Director of Exhibitions, Collections and Programs

American Swedish Institute

2600 Park Avenue

Minneapolis, MN 55407

Proposal Contents

Name of firm

Complete address

Contact person

Telephone number

Internet address

E-mail address

Provide a general statement of qualifications supported by the following information:


Provide resumes of all personnel who will be committed to this project. Provide specific

information as to their experience on projects similar to this one.

Interpretive Planning

Submit examples of at least three interpretive planning projects your company has completed within the last 10 years.

For each project, provide the following:

Name of Project

Client Contact

Total Project Cost

Completion Date


Provide information on your current workload and how you would accommodate this project.

Describe the schedule you would implement to ensure completion of the project by the required

date. Describe how your firm can add value to this project and the process and include

examples of situations from comparable projects where the Owner

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  • Application Deadline

    Jan 20, 2017