Barbara Brennan

photo of Barbara Brennan
Visiting Assistant Professor of Exhibition Design
Faculty Advisor, Graduate Exhibition Design Program;
Museum Studies Program
133d, Flagg Building
[email protected]


Professor Brennan was exhibition designer and Chair of the Exhibits Design and Technology Department at the National Air and Space Museum for over 30 years, where she was lead designer for Star Trek and the Sixties, How Things Fly, The Wright Brothers & the Invention of the Aerial Age, America by Air, and Pioneers of Flight. She has taught exhibition design as an adjunct professor the Museum Studies program since 2004, and recently designed several exhibitions for the Washingtoniana Collection and Woodhull House at the GW Museum. She currently teaches courses within the Exhibition Design MA program. 

While serving as a senior designer at the Air and Space Museum, Professor Brennan curated Universal Dimensions: The Space Art of Wang Ming in 2009, and brought several pieces by this Washington Color School artist into the museum’s permanent collection. Since retiring from the museum in 2012, she has devoted herself to painting in oils and pastels and has had numerous group and solo exhibitions.


Current Position/Projects

  • Former Senior Designer at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum (retired in 2012)
  • Currently serving as Interim Graduate Advisor for the Corcoran's Exhibition Design program



  • Book Chapter, Challenging the Conventions of Museum Display: Redesigning the Pioneers of Flight Exhibition at the National Air and Space Museum, American Alliance of Museums e-book chapter in Thinking Outside the Frame: The Importance of Design in Museum Exhibits, The AAM Press, publication pending.
  • Journal article, Teaching Exhibition Design: A Survey of Graduate Programs in the United States, Exhibitionist, 2014.
  • Professional endorsement, book jacket, Effective Exhibit Interpretation and Design, by Tessa Bridal Altamira Press, 2013.
  • Journal article, exhibition review, Kenneth E. Behring Family Hall of Mammals, Exhibitionist, 2008.
  • Exhibition label script
  • Universal Dimensions: The Space Art of Wang Ming. Wrote exhibition label script based on my interviews with the artist, National Air and Space Museum, 2008.



BA Fine Arts, Indiana University
MA Art History, Indiana University
MFA Theatre Set Design, The George Washington University


Professional Organizations

  • Art League of Alexandria
  • Colonial Beach Artist Guild
  • Midatlantic Pastel Society