Design and museography

Multidisciplinary research from the Cantonal School of Art in Lausanne (ECAL) and the Geneva University of Art and Design (HEAD Geneva)
© ECAL and HEAD Geneva, January 2009

PDF file (French) / Website of the department

“Making exhibitions is increasingly recognized
as a significant form of creative expression”
David Dernie, Exhibition


Who are the different actors involved in the creation of an exhibition? What are their respective competences? how do they collaborate? how does the language of the exhibition differ from other forms of expression?
What are the main current innovations in the field of expography and for what fields of application? In order to answer such questions, a group of teachers from the Ecole cantonale d’art de Lausanne (ECAL) and the Haute école d’art et de design de Genève (HEAD Genève) has been conducting research in recent years on the place and contribution of design in contemporary museography.

Preparing their students for visual communication design, product design and interior architecture, the ECAL and HEAD Geneva are directly concerned by the integration of these different areas of creation and activity into the multidisciplinary field of exhibition design.

The method followed consisted of :

  • carrying out a series of in-depth interviews with museography practitioners, whether they are museum managers, curators or scenographers, in order to enrich the state of knowledge on the subject;
  • to set up workshops, led by guest scenographers and designers and open to students from different educational backgrounds, with the aim of experimenting with some typical situations in the process of creating an exhibition.

The publication we are making available on our website ( brings together the results of this research. It can be downloaded and printed, chapter by chapter or in its entirety, for the private use of the reader.
This being said, the scope of the subject has forced us to make choices. Thus, we have limited ourselves to the design of cultural, thematic exhibitions, where the work of the scenographer takes on its full importance, without dealing with art exhibitions, particularly contemporary art exhibitions, which bring into play different relationships between the works exhibited, the curators, the artists and the visitors. Nor does it deal with the specific field of commercial exhibitions.

Likewise, in the framework of our research workshops, we have favoured an experimental approach to basic themes without being able to address, for lack of time, all the questions, of an aesthetic and technical nature, which arise at the time of the realisation of an exhibition proper.

Only advanced training could in the future “get around the problem”. This is why we are making a few proposals at the end of the publication to describe what we think exhibition design training should be.

Jean-François Blanc
Responsible for the Design and Museography project, ECAL, Lausanne
January 2009