Super women – Museum Exhibition Designer profile

Woman working

Written by Supernova

Aug 4, 2020

August is Women’s Month, and we’d like to pay tribute to all the wonderful women in our world.

Phillipa Hurst, museum exhibition designer

This week we’re profiling a Museum Exhibition Designer. We chatted to Phillipa Hurst to find out what a museum exhibition designer does.

What is a museum exhibition designer?

Museums can sometimes be quiet, serious places aimed at academics and adults. I go into these spaces and turn them into more exciting places for all ages by adding interactive and sensory activities, cool text and lots of illustrations.

Why did you choose this career?

The job combines my love for design, history and education. It is important to bring history to life for people, especially young adults. When you really explore the past, you find it is full of gruesome action and unbelievable drama.

What do you do on a typical work day?

I check in with clients. We work on lots of jobs at once, so I need to be up-to-speed on all of them. I often have to go to our activity makers and suppliers to check on our designs.

What skills do you need on a day-to-day basis?

I need to be flexible and switch quickly between jobs. Attention to detail is really important, as is thinking in 3D to help imagine how our spaces and activities will look and work. Creative thinking is the most important thing as that’s where everything starts.


Do you need any special qualifications in your field?

Ideally you need to be comfortable with designing, so a graphic design degree would be great. But as long as you have an undergraduate degree and a passion for the job, you can learn the rest as you go!

What companies or industries hire a museum exhibition designer?

In South Africa, there are places like Formula D, Cape Town. But companies are worldwide. There is Wilmotte & Associes in France and Italy; Exporgrafic in Spain; and Scribble and Nonsense, Button, and Red Dot in the UK. You can really travel with this job!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Every day is different, challenging and creative.

What are the challenges of your job?

I hadn’t done a lot of design work before I took on the job, so teaching myself design programmes was a challenge.

What do you know now, that you wish you knew when you first contemplated your career?

Every first job is hard and you make lots of mistakes every day, but that doesn’t mean you’re not good at it. It just means you’re learning and that’s great!

Any advice to budding museum exhibition designers?

My advice to anyone contemplating any career would be to get work experience in that job for a month or so during your summer break. It really helps you to get to know the business, and to work out if it is really what you want to do.

Part of museum exhibition
Supernova Vol 4.4

This article first appeared in Supernova Volume 4.4


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