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Book Box

<< The Object in Its Place: As Designed by Ted Cohen

Book Box

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Recommended for ages 5 and up with adult supervision.


Designed to mimic the pages of a book and featuring the publication’s photos, The Object in Its Place: As Designed by Ted Cohen is the embodiment of Signe Mayfield’s monograph. Mayfield’s book sheds light on Ted’s approach – demystifying the invisible art of exhibition design and offering practical advice for the exhibition designer in all of us. 

Honoring Ted’s practice and celebrating the return of MCD’s in-person programming at the San Francisco Public Libraries, this project challenges participants to create a diorama of a beloved book.


Cardboard box


Popsickle sticks or dowels

Background: Cardstock, colored paper 

Images: Magazines, photos, maps.

Writing and drawing tools: Coloring pencils, markers, pens, crayons, etc.

Book-inspired Artifacts: Textiles, beads, vessels, boxes, glass prisms, beads

Adhesives: Glue, tape, paste, hot glue, glue dots, etc.


  • Select a book for the diorama. We chose Signe Mayfield’s monograph The Object in Its Place: Ted Cohen & the Art of Exhibition Design
  • Think about the book! What concepts, themes, or characters were introduced? 
  • Make a list of elements from the book you want to represent in the diorama. 
  • Create the diorama.
    • Cut out relevant images and use a glue stick to adhere them to the inside of the box.
    • We selected MCD’s blueprint, tracing paper, and graph paper to reflect Ted’s initial planning of exhibitions and a map to honor his love for traveling.
  • Create book-inspired artifacts.
    • Our cabinets of curiosity references the first museums, the hanging textile reflects Ted’s belief that tapestries should never lay flat against a wall, and the suncatcher and flashlight signify Ted’s mastery of glass and light. 
  • Adhere the artifacts to the diorama. Use hot glue to attach heavier objects and popsicle sticks to suspend objects from the box.
    • We used glue dots to fit together the boxtops of the cabinets of curiosity and hot glue to adhere the structure to the box. Popsicle sticks serve both as a hook for the suncatcher and a ledge from which to hang the fabric. 


  • Use your diorama to teach a friend about your book! You and a friend both make a diorama about different publications and share out about your designs. 
  • Set a summer reading challenge! Can you read 5,10, or 15 books this summer? Make a diorama for each one.
  • Take a picture of your complete project and show it at an upcoming MCD event to receive a FREE Family Membership to the museum!


  • Ted Cohen worked as an exhibition designer in the Bay Area for more than 60 years. Learn more about Ted in the American Craft Council’s article Remembering Ted Cohen by Beth Goodrich.
  • Ted was a long-time friend to MCD – working with the museum for 17 years before passing away in May of 2021.  Explore our past exhibitions to marvel at Ted’s design contributions over the years. 
  • Hit the books! Join us at the Potrero Branch Library on 6/7 and 6/18 and the Mission Bay Branch Library on 6/11 and 7/9 for in-person art activities and to pick up a FREE MakeArt Kit to take home!


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