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Jude Simmons: Well, if we’re designing an exhibition the first that we do is to know what the story is, what the exhibition is about, what is the content, how we’re going to fit these pictures with this story in the spaces that we have.
Female Student 1: If you’re planning a gallery space, you have to know exactly where everything’s going to go, so if you’re model’s not the right shape or size you’re not going to be able to do that.
Jude Simmons: We start off with a very practical exercises. looking at the quantity of pictures, measuring them, plotting that, measuring the spaces that we have, and thinking about how can we fit this pictures we have in the right context in that space.
Female Student 2: There are things like the William Blake, that’ll have to go on a plinth.
Female Student 3: We’ve decided to make the door bit go through like this, so if you go in this way, you won’t see it all at once.
Ian Gardner: We make scale models of stuff to make sure that all of the paintings the curators want in the room can fit in the room, designing web stuff, e-flyers, complimentary tickets, all sorts, really.
Jude Simmons: If we take it one step at a time, the project starts to evolve and come together.
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Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.

Charles Eames, Architect, Graphic and Industrial Designer, Filmmaker

Your role as exhibition designer is to set the scene for the exhibition. What experience do you want to give your audience? You need to make choices about the colour of the walls, the layout of the room, graphic design and multimedia. You also have to think about access for people with disabilities and health and safety – how will you accommodate that star exhibit that everyone has come to see? Your job is to create an accessible and gorgeous space to allow the art to breathe and the exhibition zing.


Check out the competition. Visit an exhibition. Look critically at how the space has been designed. How does design affect your experience? Was it easy to navigate the space?


Think about your own exhibition. Who do you want the design to appeal to? How does the ‘look and feel’ work together with the story the exhibition is telling? How will you make sure you complete the design to time and budget?


How will the display and all the design elements come together? How will you ensure the design process is produced to schedule?


You are open to the public. Your design has to speak for itself. Have you achieved your aims and objectives? What evidence have you gathered?

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Design an Exhibition Space?

Adam works for Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery. Ask him your top 10 questions about designing an exhibition.

  1. What is a Gallery layout?
  2. Why is it important to be accurate?
  3. Where do you get inspiration from?
  4. What do you consider before you design a layout?
  5. Who do you need to work with?
  6. How can light levels affect your display?
  7. What if you have too many pictures for the space?
  8. Who installs the exhibition?
  9. How do you evaluate exhibitions?
  10. What are your top tips?