Museum Exhibit Design: Crafting an Exceptional Experience

museum exhibit design


Inside every museum exhibit is a story. Actually, it’s a story of stories swirling together; sometimes we don’t understand what grand story they come together to make until we see a museum exhibit about them.

At Exhibits NW, we believe that the best museum exhibit display starts with great museum exhibit design. Every exhibit has its own ocean of stories to tell; coaxing the perfect balance of education, intrigue, and accuracy is the goal of a great museum exhibit design.

The first rule of marketing–and every museum exhibit design is a piece of marketing, make no mistake–is to know your customer. Who are we expecting will enjoy learning about this, Little Johnny or his grandpa? Once we know who we’re telling our story to, it’s time to jump in and construct the experience.


Know Your Customer and Speak Directly to Them

Of course every exhibit is for everyone. But some demographics are going to get interested faster and more deeply than others. The point is to reach them and let them reach everyone else. A great museum exhibit design is able to wow the people it was made for–so much so that they can’t help telling their friends about it.

So how do we learn about our target demographics? Through market research. It may be (it often is) worth the investment to hire an outside marketing agency to gain access to data about your target customers. Some useful introductory questions:

  • What age group are we targeting?
  • If they don’t come to see this exhibit, what will they probably spend their time doing instead?
  • What media do they engage with the most?

Tell Your Story with Engaging Museum Exhibit Design

Again, of course the book is always better than the movie. But do you know why some people prefer movies anyway? It’s because to whatever extent, they bring a gray page of black words to life. A great museum exhibit design takes things one step further and immerses patrons in a story; instead of spectating, now they’re participating.

This is one area where really talented marketers can shine. A really talented marketer, first of all, listens. Whoever you hire or sit down with to help tell your story, will have to start by learning that story. Over time, you will become confident that they understand your vision and that their contributions enhance it rather than replacing it–or you’ll become confident of the opposite. If the latter is the case, there are plenty of other companies in the industry to move on to.

Once you and your marketer are on the same page of the storybook, it’s time to plan how the story will be told. Of course text will play a part but people will fatigue if they have to read too much. How should the context of the story be conveyed? What technologies should be implemented? All these questions and–and many more–are for answering in collaboration with a company that understands how to tell a compelling story using pictures, words, installations, and all manner of other media.


Fun is Imperative For a Great Experience

We’re talking about a museum exhibit design that people will enjoy experiencing, aren’t we? How can you expect them to lose themselves in your story if you wish you didn’t have to tell it? This whole exercise will be a waste if the person or team at the museum doesn’t like talking about the story of the exhibit.

Of course, it’s important to know your audience and make sure you’re telling the story to the right people–that’s where data and research come in. But once your love for the subject lines up with your target market, it’s time to dig in and make something amazing.