Museum Exhibition Design Process

How does a project get from A-Z? Here’s our process…

Mather & Co have almost 30 years of experience in designing and delivering museums, exhibitions, visitor experiences, and installations for a wide variety of clients in the UK and internationally.

Museum Exhibition Design Process

We pride ourselves on taking a holistic approach to the whole 'experience', considering both interpretative and experiential aspects, as well as practical and commercial ones.

As we’re often asked ‘How does a project get from A-Z?', we’re sharing our process with you, from understanding project objectives to site handover – we’ve got you.

Exploring the Potential

First thoughts set the main creative approach for the project looking at the possibilities. Ideas are plenty, sketches are loose, and stories and thoughts are evaluated. Planning and structure are established paving the way for the project to evolve with the right people doing the right things at the right time.

Exploring the potential includes:

  • Understand vision and objectives
  • Identify budgets
  • Agree programme
  • Assess collections
  • Understand commercial aims
  • Agree narrative design approach
  • Full site appraisal
  • Identify any physical works
  • Understand the current operation
Museum Exhibition Design Process

Forming the Experience

Ideas are refined and an agreed strategy for the project is created. Visual outputs envelop the creative design with the wider project objectives, content, collections, and narrative, supporting consultants and workstreams across a detailed interpretive plan. Thoughts are considered, budgets are finalised, and design planning is set out.

Forming the experience includes:

  • Develop a concept storyboard and interpretation plan
  • Brand Alignment
  • Object assessment
  • Develop layouts, plans and visitor journeys
  • Produce sketch visualisation
  • Identify practical works scope – M&E, build etc alterations, required planning, ancillary works
  • Develop an initial cost plan
  • Create an operational plan
  • Develop asset requirement list
Museum Exhibition Design Process

Finalising the Detail

Now, the detailed design begins, bringing in all the facets of the projects, content and collection information mapping, schedules and drawings, materials, and style. Costs are tested and detailed action plans establish deliverables for content writing, research, and collation of visual assets. Brand alignment sets the look and feel, whilst building infrastructure is finalised.

Finalising the detail includes:

  • Develop experience in design
  • Detailed layouts
  • Final object and assets list
  • Experience visualisation
  • Final design package sign-off
  • Interactives and AV development
  • Graphic design/brand development
  • Finalise cost plan
  • Planning complete and signed off
Museum Exhibition Design Process

Preparing for Install

Technical design is completed with every nut bolt and screw determined. Schedules, detailed drawings and specifications provide potential contractors with the scope to accurately cost the delivery of the works.

Preparing for install includes:

  • Technical drawings
  • Further design detail
  • Logistics planning
  • Interactive / AV production
  • Off-site exhibit manufacture
  • Script-writing
  • Base build works undertaken
  • M&E install

Installation on Site

This is where everything comes together, and the hard work and planning pay off. Artisans, craftspeople, contractors, and specialists bring their skill and talent to realise the creative vision. Collections are shone in a new light, experiences are created; graphics, interactive, film and media come together and the whole project takes on a new energy and focus. Tensions are high, and project launch and success drive everyone to work together for the final push.

Installation on site includes:

  • On-site build and installation
  • Interactives and AV installation and commissioning
  • Handover site
  • Staff training and operational launch
  • Marketing build-up
  • Completion

Are you interested in working with us? Get in touch - we're always happy to chat!


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