Museum Exhibition Design

Histories and Futures



WELCOME to the Museum Exhibition Design: Histories and Futures conference legacy site.

Museum Exhibition Design: Histories and Futures was a conference hosted by the Centre for Design History at the University of Brighton, UK, in September 2020. We were delighted to be able to welcome an international community of scholars and practitioners from over 18 countries to consider the history and future of exhibition design in museums. The conference has now closed but this website archives many of the keynotes, plenary roundtable and papers that were presented, as well as the discussions that they generated.

While museum studies is underpinned by seminal texts attending to the poetics and politics of museum display, the agents and collaborative process of past display practices have often remained hidden ‘behind the scenes’ of the museum. Together, the papers and discussions presented through this conference worked to change this: they reframed understandings of museums and their genealogy, as well as challenged contemporary museums and exhibition makers in their plans for the future. The collective reflections on the activities, agendas, experiences and impact of those historically involved in museum exhibition making, from the early nineteenth century to the recent past, were rich and exciting. In addition to this website, some of them will soon be published by Routledge as Histories of Museum Exhibition Design: Makers, Process, Practice.

Museum Exhibition Design: Histories and Futures was a nearly carbon-neutral conference (NCNC). It included the typical elements of an academic conference – keynote addresses, panels, Q&As, abstracts, a noticeboard, publications rack and contacts list – but there were no air flights, train journeys, hotel bookings, or conference packs. And no registration fee: registration at Museum Exhibition Design was and remains free, and open to all. Many of our speakers specially subtitled their contributions with access in mind, and auto-captioning services are additionally available.

Registration for the conference is now closed.

As conference convenors, we would like to thank our keynotes, presenters and delegates for the enthusiasm with which they embraced what was at the time a new, experimental format, as well as for their outstanding scholarship and ideas. We also are deeply indebted to Dr Tim Satterthwaite at the University of Brighton, who generously shared with us his invaluable experience and skills, built through the ‘Future States’ conference which he convened in April 2020. The then directors of the Centre for Design History, Prof Jeremy Aynsley and Dr Annebella Pollen, as well as administrators Georgina Le Breuilly and Ian Sinclair, deserve special mention for their support, and we are very grateful to the University of Brighton Design Archives for permission to use their incredible collection of images.

Thank you for joining us, and we hope you continue to enjoy the conference.

Claire Wintle, Kate Guy and Hajra Williams

Skip to toolbar