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NYSED: 29386   HEGIS: 1009

The 39-48-credit, full-time program in Exhibition Design prepares students for careers in the exhibition design profession. The studio-driven curriculum focuses on designing narrative environments with the audience in mind. Students explore exhibition design in multiple areas, including museums and trade and public venues, and develop skills in concept development, environmental design, graphics, lighting, and modelmaking. Working closely with industry partners, the program features actual projects and studio-based competitions with local and international firms, museums, and public facilities. Following a critical thesis exhibition project, students complete an internship at a specially designated site appropriate to their learning needs and career visions. Curriculum below is for the entering class of Fall 2016. 

CHRISTINA LYONS, Associate Chairperson

Course of Study

Fall - Semester 1
ED 541Introduction to Exhibition Design Graphics1.5
ED 571Illuminating the Exhibition Experience3
ED 572Historical Perspective and Theory3
ED 581Introduction to the Exhibition Design Studio1.5
ED 582Exhibition and Planning Design Studio3
Optional Winter Session
ED 573Exhibition Design International Professional Practices Seminar3
ED 501Sustainability for Exhibitions3
Spring - Semester 2
ED 523Exhibition Design for the Museum Setting3
ED 531Presentation Techniques3
ED 542Exhibition Design Graphics3
ED 584Exhibition Development and Evaluation3
Summer Session
ED 591Exhibition Design Thesis: Directed Research3
Fall - Semester 3
ED 632Advanced Presentation Techniques3
ED 643Exhibition Design Graphics II3
ED 651The Exhibition Model3
ED 691Capstone Project Development & Qualifying Paper3
Optional Spring Session
IC 592Internship - Exhibition Design3
Total Credits48

Optional Internship Elective

IC 592 Internship - Exhibition Design (3 cr.). This internship elective occurs over the spring semester. Internship sites include design firms, museums, exhibit marketing firms, retail environments, events companies, and exhibition design and production companies. Internships must be pre-approved by the department chairperson and FIT's Career and Internship Center. Current lists of credit-bearing internship opportunities, descriptions, guidelines, and procedures are kept on file in the department office and at the Career and Internship Center. International Students must take this elective as per their Curricular Practical Training (CPT).


Eligibility to Attend Commencement Exercises

Candidates for the master’s degree at FIT must have advanced to candidacy before being permitted to attend graduation ceremonies.

Maintenance of Matriculation

To maintain matriculation, a degree candidate must register each semester following entry into a program for either (a) at least one approved course or (b) maintenance of matriculation. If a student does not maintain continuous matriculation, or does not complete all degree requirements in the time allowed, that student will be required to apply for readmission to the program following the procedures and requirements listed in the catalog of the readmission year. If readmission is granted, the student will also be required to pay all delinquent maintenance of matriculation fees prior to being awarded the degree.

Degree Requirements


For admittance to degree candidacy, students must have satisfied all prerequisites, completed a minimum of 39 approved course credits in approximately 1-1/2 years, achieved a final grade point average (GPA) of 3.0, and had their qualifying thesis project approved by their committee. Students must have advanced to degree candidacy before being permitted to attend graduation ceremonies.

Qualifying Thesis Project

The final semester of the program comprises four interdisciplinary courses, through which students conceive and execute a professional-quality, independent thesis design project, subject to department approval. The thesis is comprised of a design hypothesis proven through research and the execution of a comprehensive exhibition design and qualifying academic paper.


Students accepted into the Exhibition Design program are expected to bring a laptop computer that meets current program specifications. For specific information, please contact the program chairperson.


ED 501 — Sustainability for Exhibitions

3 credits; 6 lab hours

An elective intensive studio course that will enable design students to research and apply fundamental and innovative sustainable exhibition design practices. Through a series of exercises and design projects students will learn how sustainable materials and practices for exhibitions and tradeshow events impact society, design, cost and project management.

ED 523 — Exhibition Design for the Museum Setting

3 credits; 6 lab hours

This studio-based course explores the great diversity of museum exhibitions such as permanent, pop-up, traveling, virtual and collections-based, and the myriad types of museums including art, historic, children’s, science, halls of fame, zoos, botanic gardens, religious, and memorials. This course incorporates multiple applied projects featuring a complete exhibition concept design program for a museum client.

ED 531 — Presentation Techniques

3 credits; 6 lab hours

Introduces the planning and design of professional presentations, including drawings, digital images, and boards. Quick and formal sketch techniques, as well as appropriate materials, are reviewed. This course functions in an interdisciplinary manner with ED 542.

ED 541 — Introduction to Exhibition Design Graphics

1.5 credits; 3 lab hours

Introduces the principles and history of graphic design. Develops a working knowledge of the complementary role graphics plays in exhibit design, as well as an understanding of typographic style, image concept, theme response, brand identity issues, and product graphic requirements. This course will function in an interdisciplinary manner ED 581.

ED 542 — Exhibition Design Graphics

3 credits; 6 lab hours

Explores graphic design communication system, including graphic identity and program development. Imagery and typographic solutions, with an emphasis on two- and three- dimensional design development, are covered. Guest lecturers and site visits included. This course functions in an interdisciplinary manner with ED 582.

ED 571 — Illuminating the Exhibition Experience

3 credits; 6 lab hours

Introduces the role of light in exhibition design in the conversation and interpretation of objects. Topics include illumination of art and text; the relationship between illumination, color, and human response; light as a facilitator of visual communication, merchandising, and education; and light in theatric and thematic exhibition experiences. Illumination methods and the needs of museums, galleries, and trade shows are explored. Assigned reading, demonstrations, guest lectures, and hands-on experience are included.

ED 572 — Historical Perspective and Theory

3 credits; 1 lecture and 4 lab hours

This studio-based course explores the history, theory, and practice of exhibition design. Through presentations, studio design work and visits to design firms, museums, public and corporate venues, students examine key events and issues. Emphasis is placed on exhibitions as arbiters of fact and content authority, and the extraordinary gains being made in design innovation.

ED 573 — Exhibition Design International Professional Practices Seminar

3 credits; 1 lecture and 4 lab hours

In this seminar featuring domestic and overseas sessions with industry partners, students learn to apply fundamental and state of the art business practices. Through panel discussions, presentations, industry-led tours, and studio work, they delve into current marketing, management, and vendor relationship issues that impact the world of exhibitions and project management.

ED 581 — Introduction to the Exhibition Design Studio

1.5 credits; 3 lab hours

Addresses the three-dimensional challenges faced by exhibition designers. Topics include space design; conceptual development of a thematic approach; and creation of a presentation system for products, artifacts, or artwork. Guest lecturers include exhibition designers, producers. and historians. Site visits incorpated when possible. All student projects must meet American with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. This course functions in an interdisciplinary matter with ED 541.

ED 582 — Exhibition and Planning Design Studio

3 credits; 6 lab hours

Develops an understanding of small- and large-scale projects. Three assignments drawn from such exhibition venues as galleries, museums, trade shows, symposia, and traveling exhibitions are required. Students develop exhibition-design programs that include research, programming, space planning, lighting, graphics, audiovisual components, electronic media, and proposal/presentation development.

ED 584 — Exhibition Development and Evaluation

3 credits; 6 lab hours

This studio-based course introduces students to exhibition design development processes and the variations in practice across different venues. Brainstorming and ideation techniques are exercised and key phases and deliverables explored. The role that exhibition evaluation plays within the exhibition development and design process will be introduced and applied, including Front-End, Formative and Summative.

ED 591 — Exhibition Design Thesis: Directed Research

3 credits; 1 lecture and 4 lab hours

Development of the individual's thesis program, including the development of the design hypothesis, identification of design criteria, and appropriate research methods for data analysis. Critiques and guidance are provided by both faculty and exhibition design professionals.

ED 632 — Advanced Presentation Techniques

3 credits; 6 lab hours

Covers digital enhancement of manual sketches, portfolio development, and the design, style, layout, content, labeling, and material for each individual's thesis project.

ED 643 — Exhibition Design Graphics II

3 credits; 6 lecture hours

Focuses on the development of the interactive components and graphic elements, specifically all collateral and print items, for each individual's thesis project. Covers the graphics requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

ED 651 — The Exhibition Model

3 credits; 6 lecture hours

Focuses on the construction of three-dimensional exhibition models, and the role these models play in communicating exhibition design concepts. Students develop projects from initial visits to finished presentation pieces. Includes lectures, industry presentations, and site visits to professional model-making facilities.

ED 691 — Capstone Project Development & Qualifying Paper

3 credits; 6 lab hours

This capstone course is a continuation of ED 591, with co-requisites ED 643, ED 651, and ED 632. Students further develop the foundation of their capstone exhibition design project, and complete a graduate-level thesis qualifying paper.
Prerequisite(s): ED 591
Co-requisite(s): ED 643, ED 651, and ED 632.