Communicating Through Exhibitions

Code: AHVS488C
Apply this course towards: Cultural Resource Management, Collections Management, Visitor and Community Engagement

Course description

This course is about creating exhibitions that communicate clearly, that tell stories well, connect with the visitors as people and get them thinking. 

As a foundation, we shall analyze what makes exhibitions successful and how to look at all exhibitions with a critical eye. Making good decisions throughout the exhibition development process is essential to effective communication.

We will explore the entire planning process, however the primary focus will be on the story and how it is told. Mastering the art of interpretation is essential to creating exhibitions that work for visitors. We will look at the principles of powerful interpretation, the construction of the story and the particular art of writing for exhibitions. And, we will explore the tools a designer uses (including display cases, signage, lighting, digital presentations and more) to construct an exhibition that has a point to make, that moves the visitor emotionally and goes beyond simply conveying information. 

The course relies heavily on real life examples and practical exercises. You will also gain experience in developing interpretive content for an exhibition through collaboration as a member of a team.

Learning objectives

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Analyze what makes an exhibition successful
  • Understand the principles of interpretation and how to apply them
  • Develop an Interpretive Plan 
  • Construct a story that becomes the foundation for an exhibition’s design
  • Understand the principles for writing exhibition text that visitors want to read
  • Understand how to use design tools (display cases, signage, lighting, inter-actives and digital media) to effectively deliver an exhibition’s story


Note: though not required, prior experience in a cultural organization would be an asset for success in this course. Please contact the Program Office if you have any questions or concerns.


“I believe that museums can change peoples’ lives.”

Tim Willis is one of Canada’s most experienced museum professionals. During his 25 year career, he has led the creation of more than one hundred exhibitions, helped museums to shape their long-term visitor experience strategies, and been a strong advocate for the power of museums to change and enrich peoples’ lives.

After moving to Canada, Tim worked in private practice to plan several of Alberta’s heritage interpretive centers including Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. In the late 1980s, Tim joined the Royal Alberta Museum as head of Exhibitions and Marketing. Under Tim’s leadership, the Royal Alberta Museum developed one of the most active exhibition programs in Canada. From 2001 to 2006, Tim led the development of a new visitor experience - part of the Royal Alberta Museum’s $180 million renewal project.

Joining the Royal BC Museum in September 2006, Tim’s focus was to create a long-term vision the entire visitor experience. He also headed some of the Museum’s most intriguing and successful exhibition projects.

In 2013, Tim decided to work independently sharing his knowledge and experience with students and advising museums and other clients.

Registration details

You have already registered for this course.

View My account

This item is already in your shop cart.

View shop cart
Loading section fee(s)...

You're already on the waiting list for this item.

Sorry, this section is full.

Fee Tax Subtotal
{{ ::(fee.price | currency) }} {{ ::( | currency) }} {{ ::( | currency) }}
{{ ::(child.price | currency) }} {{ ::( | currency) }} {{ ::( | currency) }}
    Total {{ fee.totalFees | currency }}

Add to Shop Cart Loading

Note: You will be asked to sign in or create an account to register and pay for this course.

Having trouble registering online? Register by phone: 250-472-4747

Online registration temporarily unavailable

Sorry, this course is not available for registration at this time.

This course is in progress. Please contact us for more details.

Online registration is closed for this course. You may still be able to register by phone. Call 250-472-4747 to find out.

This course is on your wish list. You will be notified when this course becomes available.

Want to receive notification when this course becomes available?

{{ loggedIn ? 'Add to wish list' : 'Sign in/create a new account to add to wish list' }}

Info you should know:

Continuing Studies statement on use of educational technology

This course will require the use of Zoom and may use other education technology such as internet-based applications, cloud services, or social media. In order to complete this course you will be required to either consent to the disclosure of your personal information outside of Canada to enable use of these technologies, or work with the Division of Continuing Studies to explore other privacy protective options (such as using an alias or nickname).