chapter  3
35 Pages

Designing exhibitions

Designing museum exhibitions is the art and science of arranging the visual, spatial, and material elements of an environment into a composition that visitors move though. This is done to accomplish pre-established goals. The presentation of exhibitions in museums should never be haphazard or left to chance. Although planning can be overdone for almost any project, quality museum exhibitions require a high degree of development and design to serve the public properly. Design decisions should be deliberate and calculated, and executed to achieve maximum effect. Though a certain degree of serendipity plays a role, relying upon it too heavily is a mistake. A well-founded knowledge of design basics can foster an organized approach to exhibition design. Certain elements of design are fundamental to all visual arts. An introduction to these elements is helpful in understanding why some arrangements work-that is, they fulfill their intended function-while others do not. When a composition works, it is usually comfortable to the eye, even if the subject matter may not be. However, when design fails, people will react negatively, regardless of how beautiful or important the contents are. Naming the key elements of design varies, depending upon the person naming and their interests. However, there are six main elements. These are:

• value • color • texture • balance • line • shape


Value is the quality of lightness or darkness, having no reference specifically to color. Areas that are black have the lowest value; areas that are white, the highest. All the infinite stages between are varying degrees or shades of value.