Home / Museum Exhibitions / Exhibition Design / A better way to create exhibitions ?

A better way to create exhibitions ?

A year ago we started work on a 15,000 square foot start up Science Center.  Most Science Centers cost approximately $350-$500 per sq. ft. (see 2011 exhibition cost survey).  This Science Center had neither the time nor the budget to go through the typical museum design process; prototyping, value engineering, fabrication and installation process.  I suggested an “off the shelf” process.  We would create schematic designs of the areas of the science center, create a storyline for each area, suggest several iconic exhibits, create an a color palette, then go and look for new or used existing exhibits that would work within the developed frame work.  Using this methodology, we set a budget of $1.2 m for 15,000 square feet ($80 per square foot).  For the $1.2 m, we took the project through 50% design development, purchased the exhibits, managed the project, shipped the exhibits and exhibition installation.   We were able to design, purchase, deliver and install the exhibits in less than one year at a significantly lower cost.

In the process of working for the client we developed as an internal website for tracking exhibits and vendors.  Along the way we realized that museum-exhibits had greater potential than just internal uses.  In the past I have written about the concept of the Hub Museum, museums that share resources.  We realized that museum-exhibits had become a curated “clearing house” for resources.  As was developed for internal use it is a work in progress, but I now feel confident to share the site and ask for feedback.  I have now made a public website.  As a follow up to this post I am interested in feedback on the website and will create an online survey.  I am also interested in suggestions for exhibits, sculptures and materials from vendors, and museum suppliers to be included.  Please use the vendor form to make suggestions. is an online resource for educational exhibits for museums, science centers, children’s museums, zoos and natural history museums.  The website content includes “off the shelf” exhibits, specialty effects and interactive kinetic sculpture for family learning environments.

“Off the Shelf” Exhibit Definition:

An already existing museum exhibit.   A proven museum / science center exhibit available for shipping within 6-12 weeks of contract signing.  Includes, one year warranty, maintenance manual, listing of replacement parts and electrical requirements.

About Mark Walhimer

Mark is Managing Partner of Museum Planning, LLC, a museum planning and exhibition project management firm of interactive educational environments for Science Centers, Children's Museums and Natural History Museums. You can reach Mark at

Check Also

Museum Exhibition Contract Drawing Specifications

When creating museum exhibition design drawings, the drawings become part of the fabrication contract documents. The National Park Service (NPS) and the Smithsonian are the benchmarks for Museum Exhibition Contract Drawing Specifications.

One comment

  1. Very helpful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *