Design in 2016 – what will exhibitions look like?

As part of our series on the future of design in 2016 Design Museum curator Gemma Curtin looks at what will happen in exhibition design over the next 12 months.


Visualisation of the new Design Museum interiors. © Alex Morris.
Visualisation of the new Design Museum interiors. © Alex Morris.

What will 2016 hold for exhibitions?

“2016 will be a year to reflect on how museums and galleries can best approach temporary exhibitions. There needs to be a fine balance of programming at play to ensure that high profile exhibitions are presented alongside less popular, but equally valuable and rewarding shows.

In addition there is a growing expectation that the exhibition designer will communicate and enrich the curatorial narrative through a sensitive or dramatic use of space, colour, scale and lighting, as visitors increasingly anticipate an experiential journey.  All the while the designers will be working within the traditional parameters of tight budgets and short lead times.

During 2016 I am looking forward to working on the next Design Museum Designs of the Year exhibition, where the most innovative design projects from the past twelve months will be presented.  An added excitement this year is that it will be shown in the museum’s long awaited new home, the former Commonwealth Institute in Kensington, opening to the public at the end of 2016.

Exhibitions that I hope to visit this year include The Vulgar at the Barbican – an exhibition that tackles the subject of taste – and at the Science Museum Leonardo da Vinci: The Mechanics of Genius; a chance to learn about the inventions of this Renaissance master.”

What was the standout exhibition project for 2016?

"Cabinet of Curiosities" All images © Victoria and Albert Museum
© Victoria and Albert Museum

“Savage Beauty, the exhibition devoted to the fashion designer Alexander McQueen, not only topped the board in 2015 for a record number of visitors to a temporary exhibition, but also for the high cost of staging such a thrilling  and  lavish show.”

Discover more of 2015’s biggest exhibition projects:

Inside the V&A’s Alexander McQueen exhibition Savage Beauty

How architect and design studio Assemble scooped the Turner Prize

National Trust opens up hidden WW2 Dover tunnels as visitor attraction

Planet Eames – how Charles and Ray saw the world

V&A Dundee prepares to tell Scotland’s “unknown design history”


See all Design Week’s packaging design stories at

Hide Comments (2)Show Comments (2)
  • SHANE WALTER January 8, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Fantastic typo: Leonardo Da Vince [sic]. Love it! Awight Vincie boy ‘ows it goin? You still seein’ that lisa bird – she still moanin’ about your flying machine collection? nice xmas was it… a pint in the Vetruvian Man boozer and a Last Supper down the chippy.

    • Angus Montgomery January 8, 2016 at 10:36 am

      Thanks Shane! Ahem, we’ve corrected that…

  • Post a comment

Latest articles