What Does It Take To Plan And Design An Exhibit?

Exhibit development and design is a process of adding layers of detail in stages. Each step creates opportunities for discovery of stories, of scenes, and of fine points. Such discoveries are the seeds of exceptional visitor experiences.

At 106 Group, we place particular value on establishing solid foundations at the beginning. All the steps that follow build off developing clarity about the project’s purpose, audience, and the central idea, senses, and emotions you want to express.

The richest exhibits invite stakeholder voices in those earliest, foundational planning workshops. We lead effective, interactive outreach programs that reveal surprising stories and new clarity. And those conversations often grow relationships that have benefits even beyond the exhibit.

Following the idea that form follows function, our designs grow from the foundations. In Concept, we design with unbounded creativity to envision the most effective means of engaging the audience to meet the goals. Full size environments or graphic-forward? Mechanical interactives or touchable objects? Cases with artifacts irreplaceable or familiar? To-the-point language or poetic? Bright, bold styles or subdued and integrated? Indoors, outdoors, or both? Structured flow or wide open? Gamified, app-based, or sculptural? All these and more are in our toolbox as we begin to conceive.

Once the team gets excited by a Concept, then Schematic Design, Design Development, and Production Design dial in the specifics. Clear and thorough documentation become key to communication and reviews. Production Design leads to the Request for Proposal (RFP) for fabrication. Competitive bids help the client pick the best exhibit fabricators for their specific needs. 106 Group stays engaged through installation, keeping everyone clear and focused on the end goals.

We’re always happy to walk you through the process, showing specific examples and responding to your site’s unique needs. If you’d like to talk or to arrange a presentation, contact Steve Boyd-Smith at SteveBoydSmith@106group.com. Download a pdf which illustrates the exhibit planning/design process at the link below.

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Steve Boyd-Smith


Steve has made his career eliciting stories and producing meaningful ways for visitors to engage with them. Since 1990, he has created interpretive experiences for dozens of museums, historic sites, and visitor centers around the country. A Certified Interpretive Planner, Steve was recently awarded the honor of Master Interpretive Manager by the National Association for Interpretation.