A List of Resources for Exhibit Design

By Angie Milligan, Freelance Graphic Designer and Exhibition Designer, Vancouver Art Gallery


There are a lot of moving components when it comes to Exhibition Design. It takes a team that is specialized in many different fields to come together to build an experience for patrons. As the designer, your designs can change dramatically when materials, lighting, cost and time get involved. Here are some resources to lean upon whether you're starting out or immersed in the process. 



In the last few years, I have made accessibility the first step in my design process. Today it is important to create safe, inclusive environments that look out for everyone. 
This is an oldie but goodie. It is the industry standard for Accessible Exhibition Design although I have added my own notes into my copy of this document when it comes to signage heights and type sizes. 
HCMA, a Vancouver-based architecture firm, re-released their booklet a few years ago with new language and icons. This is a strong case study that showcases how inclusive design works. 

Typographic Inspiration

Typography is a huge component of any show from the title wall down to the labels and icons. 
The best part of this site is its search capabilities. You can earch by type of material (i.e. booklet or poster) or by typeface to see examples. 
This is a great curated instagram handle to follow. Brooke Robinson does a great job of showcasing type in different mediums and diverse styles of lettering.



Some shows rely heavily on wayfinding and signage but others not so much. The actual show is the most important thing in the room, but as the designer, you need balance all of the other components that your audience needs like safety signs, bathroom and exit signs. 
Wayfinding can be daunting, but this book gives a visual overview of the process for developing a system. There are also great tips about icons that I continue to revisit. 
This article, by Anna Faherty for an American website for Museum Services, makes key points about how successful systems work in Museums. Like any site-specific design, Museums need a different approach from other buildings. 

Exhibition Design Eye Candy


When I visit these sites, I dream about having unlimited budgets and resources. Dreaming aside, Exhibition Design is a niche field of work and resources from a design perspective are limited. These are valuable to see how other designers have solved similar design problems. 
The thing I admire most about Pentagram’s Exhibition Design is their attention to detail when it comes to their use of materials and how these are used throughout a show. 
Besides looking at the Award-winning shows, this site is a great resource for information on exhibit services and networking. 
Technical Museum Resources 
I considered naming this section of my list: Books I read in university that I still return to after all these years.
Exhibition labels have their own language and set of rules and it's great to have a resource for situations that you don’t remember how to handle.  
Great overview of the process and the areas that you should look out for when putting a show together. I also enjoy some of the information design in this book. 
This is another industry standard with very detailed notes and technical components for the process like lighting temperatures, production and optimal colour contrast ratios.