Designing for the Met: How Hiring the Right Exhibit Designers Affects the Changing Nature of Museums | News


New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has made several big announcements in recent months: from announcing a $500 million wing expansion designed by Frida Escobedo, an upcoming rooftop installation by artist Lauren Halsey, at the renovation of the Museum’s Ancient Near Eastern and Cypriot Art Gallery. led by NADAAA and Moody Nolan, The Met is aiming for what 2022 and beyond will bring.

Learning from the lessons of the pandemic and the socio-economic events of 2020 and 2021, the design of museums and exhibitions continues to evolve and change, hopefully for the better. As cultural institutions around the world continue to reopen and prepare for another year of exhibitions, many dare to ask what the future of exhibition design will look like. Who are the future scenographers of the exhibition? What does it take to get motivated people to work for one of today’s leading museums?

The Met’s “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” exhibit. Pictured is a dress designed by international fashion designer and design advocate Prabal Gurung. Image courtesy of The Met via @metmuseum.

Continuing the series of Archinect jobs highlights, we present employment opportunities for individuals with an architectural background who are looking to develop their skills outside of traditional architectural firms. For our final highlight, we explore the role of an exhibit designer for The Met. Although the needs and qualifications for a position like this may differ from museum to museum depending on the curatorial focus and management of the museum, the largest art museum in the western hemisphere is currently looking for a designer to join their team.

The museum states that its design department includes “approximately 50+ exhibits and rotations per year, capital and building construction projects, and gallery relocation projects. In addition to exhibit materials, the department produces approximately 200+ communication design projects per year, ranging from large scale events with bespoke graphic identities, wayfinding systems and printed materials.”

For those wishing to pursue a career as an Exhibition Designer at the Met, this candidate will work under the Design Manager and Exhibition Design team. The ideal candidate for the position will be “a collegial, collaborative problem solver who can exercise a wide range of creative strategies and has a comprehensive understanding of museum best practices,” the museum explains.

“Before Yesterday We Could Fly: An Afrofuturist Period Room.” Museum description: “The Met’s curatorial team worked with Senior Curator Hannah Beachler, who envisioned and designed this space with Consulting Curator Michelle Commander.” Image courtesy of The Met via @metmuseum. Learn more about the exhibition here.

In-depth knowledge of construction techniques, fabrication skills, materials, and project management is required in addition to knowledge of Vectorworks, Rhino, and/or 3D Max. At least 2-4 years of experience in exhibit design, industrial design, scenic design or architectural design is required. The museum also shares that a bachelor’s degree in exhibit design, industrial design, or an equivalent field of work is essential. An MFA or M.Arch is preferred.

In addition to familiarity and experience with exhibit design, candidates should have “experience in creating design documents, knowledge of construction tender documents, custom detailing and possess the technical and rendering skills (Photoshop, AutoCAD, etc.) to develop, present and test design ideas visually.”

Beyond the prestige of working for a notable museum or institution, the future of curatorial ethics, storytelling, and representation begins with its staff, curators, and designers. In order to achieve best design and curatorial practices, the role of an exhibit designer is a career path that lends itself to multidisciplinary approaches, diverse perspectives and people. If you’re an architect or designer with a background in architecture, looking to dive into museum and exhibition design, learn more about the Met’s open position here.

If you want to read inspiring stories of architects who have succeeded in other industries, check out Archinect’s Working Out of the Box series.

Stay up to date with our latest coverage of exciting opportunities on the Archinect Job Board after the tag Interesting jobs.

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