How an Exhibition at the MOA is Created

 In MOA Behind-the-Scenes, MOA Features, MOA Staff

Guest post by Lynda Palma


As you know from visiting museums or reading “Meet the MOA” features on our blog, it requires a tremendous amount of work and many people from a variety of disciplines to bring an exhibition to fruition. Here’s a glimpse into the process of how we plan, design, build, and create an exhibition at the BYU Museum of Art.

MOA curators initiate this process. A curator’s job is to explore ideas for possible exhibitions and then present them first to the exhibition development team and then to the entire MOA staff. After refining the exhibition proposal—with each iteration more polished—the exhibition is then placed on the calendar, sometimes two or more years before the exhibition will open.

Once an exhibition is on the docket, then the real fun begins! Curators then begin to work in collaboration with design, education, fabrication, registration, and marketing to ensure that the arrangement and interpretation of the objects are engaging and informative. Curators work tirelessly to select which artworks to include in the exhibition—the best pieces and those that will most effectively promote the exhibition thesis. Curators also research these objects and provide descriptive gallery labels and text panels for each work.

Exhibitions are assigned a museum educator, who works with the curator to formulate and interpret exhibition materials. The educator is responsible for creating educational resources for all MOA patrons—including the campus community, K-12, families, and community members—and designing exhibition tours so that students and docents can provide quality experiences for MOA visitors.

MOAEveningforEducators_2-25-15-Deco Japan-Origami-7776


The registration team plays a crucial role in the exhibition process. Guardians of the MOA Permanent Collection, registrars also oversee the condition and maintenance of borrowed artworks and arrange the logistics of transportation, safety, and care of these objects.

The designer then translates curatorial and educational concepts into a blueprint for the galleries—their design, arrangement of the artworks, configuration of the space itself, even the choice of paint color for the walls and font type for the labels. Designers also make decisions with respect to the flow of traffic in the space and how to best incorporate technology within the gallery.


Once the design plans are complete, they are presented to the fabrication team. The fabricators then construct the gallery—building walls, arranging for painting to occur, and creating the decorative elements of the space such as arches and wainscoting. In addition, MOA Fabricators are highly trained in the painstaking craft of making museum-quality frames.


When the fabrication of the gallery is complete, fabrication, design, and registration install the artworks, and the fabricators begin the critical and exacting task of lighting the artworks to optimum effect. The curator often visits the gallery during this phase to make sure the realization of the month and years of planning is unfolding as expected.

installation shot

The marketing and PR department is responsible for informing YOU about the exhibition and its programs through press releases via radio, television, and the internet, as well as posters, newsletters, and billboards. The marketing/PR team strives to encourage you to join us in celebrating the arts and enhancing your appreciation of quality works representing a variety of ages, attitudes, and cultures.

During your next visit to the MOA, as you walk through the galleries and admire the art, perhaps you could take a moment to consider why the curator might have chosen a particular piece. Maybe you will notice the unique design of the gallery, enjoy the educational materials, or recognize exhibition walls that weren

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