Exhibition Design; exhibit model

Exhibition Design


Design and display where and when it matters most.


The Master of Arts in Exhibition Design (MA|EX) program explores the intersection of design and public communications, in the nation’s capital, at a critical moment in the history of cultural discourse and spatial practice.

Exhibition design, in the MA|EX program at GW’s Corcoran School, is more than the design of spaces that convey information, share stories or promote products. It does more than relate artworks, objects and audiences in experiential compositions. It has the potential to tell us about how we are living and how we could be living.

MA|EX students take up the charge to rethink connections in the world. They find shapes for ideas and identities and orient them for diverse publics. They choreograph forms, facts and fictions that put people in touch with each other and with the (built) environment. They design exhibitions as sites of material expression and activism.

The interdisciplinarity of the MA|EX program prepares students to innovate through exhibitions. Students work with curators, artists, and institutions. You will design in dialogue—drawing on multiple art, design, and social practices. And, you will develop dexterity, through training in analog craft and digital fabrication, studies in history and theory and exercises in real-world application.

The MA|EX program coordinates with Washington, DC’s extensive network of national museums. It also engages the city at-large, identifying opportunities for exhibition in its places of memory and monument, performance and protest, and commerce and leisure.




We invite you to join us for an online information session about our Master of Arts in Exhibition Design (MA|EX) with Andrea Dietz, Assistant Professor of Exhibition Design. In this session, you'll have the opportunity to ask questions about our program and the application process.

MA in Exhibition Design Information Session (CCAS)

Date: Monday, December 3, 2018
Time: noon-1:00 p.m. EST
Location: online

Register for the December 3 Info Session

MA in Exhibition Design Information Session (CCAS)

Date: Monday, January 14, 2019
Time: 8:00-9:00 p.m. EST
Location: online 

Register for the January 14 Info Session


Program of Study




The MA|EX curriculum is studio-centered. Each semester, the exhibition design studio acts as a hub for complementing coursework. Through the studio structure, students do fieldwork, navigate exhibition settings and scenarios, and apply external knowledge and skills in design for exhibitions.

Supporting classes are topical, in exhibition design history, theory, and criticism, in exhibition design practices, and in specializations. Specialized electives allow students to advance as designers or to acquire expertise in digital humanities, programming and performance and museum studies.

The MA|EX program is a sequential, 48-unit, two-year course of study.



Exhibition Design Courses


female student hanging materials





MA|EX students access the exhibition design profession throughout their coursework, during fieldwork, with sponsored studios, and in internships. The curricular experiences reflect working trajectories available to MA|EX alumni. Often, the relationships that students cultivate while in the MA|EX program develop into careers.

Exhibition design is a versatile course of study. MA|EX graduates work in and with museums, are design studio associates, oversee construction and fabrication enterprises, lead arts organizations, and are independent entrepreneurs.


Recent internship sponsors and studio collaborators include

  • Freer & Sackler Gallery
  • Hamiltonian Gallery
  • Phillips Collection
  • The National Air and Space Museum
  • The National Gallery of Art
  • The National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • The National Museum of American History
  • The National Portrait Gallery
  • Renwick Gallery
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • The Textile Museum


MA|EX alumni work with

  • Local Museums: Many of the recent internship sponsors and studio collaborators, including the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art
  • National Museums: including The Getty and Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Arts and Non-Profit Organizations: including Halcyon House
  • (Non-)Governmental and Professional Organizations: including Inter-American Development Bank Art Collection & Cultural Center and The Society for Experiential Graphic Design
  • Multi-Disciplinary Design Studios: including C&G Partners, Cortina Productions, Gallagher & Associates, Howard+Revis, The PRD Group, and Thinc Design
  • Design Fabricators and Vendors: including F. Schumacher and Quatrefoil




MA|EX faculty are architects, artists, designers, fabricators, curators, managers and directors. They represent museums, design studios, institutions and organizations and individual enterprises. They recognize the power and potential of exhibition design and work tirelessly to elevate the discipline and educate its practitioners.

MA|EX students are designers with narratives to share. They are storytellers with maker sensibilities. They are community activists, cultural critics, and educators who are developing a public practice. They have formal design training or they have learned by doing. They see in exhibition design an outlet for conceptual and material speculation and an opportunity to join a public conversation.


What our students create




Yunwen Zhu

Yunwen Zhu has worked as a designer on various exhibits at Howard + Revis Design Services since June 2017. She previously worked as a design intern at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and was the graphic design lead at a print company in Canada. Yunwen was attracted to the exhibition design field by innovative exhibitions and her desire to create a unique experience for diverse audiences through her expertise in 2D art, 3D art, and sketching. She grew up in China and spent seven years in Canada for school and work before coming to the U.S. With her international background and diverse experiences, Yunwen explores design thinking in a broader cultural perspective.

Her thesis exhibition, Journey to A Forgotten Place, features the submerged city Shicheng from China. Journey to A Forgotten Place relates telling a story of an unfamiliar place/event in the past that is no longer physically accessible to the public but can be revisited through exhibition design. The goals of this exhibition are to bring visitors on a journey to learn about this forgotten place, to be in awe of the beauty of the sunken city, and to evoke their feelings and memories of a past life.



Administrative Offices, Flagg Building
500 17th St, NW 
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Program Administrator
[email protected] 

Program Head
Johan Severtson
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Graduate Advisor
Andrea Dietz
[email protected]