Exhibition management is usually done by graduates with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design, or in Design with an exhibition concentration. An MFA usually takes two years of full-time study to complete and involves a significant amount of hands-on creative work in addition to traditional classroom studies, such as internships and a thesis. Students will need a bachelor's in a related field, high GRE scores, undergraduate transcripts, an admissions essay, letters of recommendation, and an art portfolio to enroll. Those interested in pursuing more advanced studies can take a doctoral program in the field.
Master of Fine Arts in Museum Planning and Design
Students study several topics from history, art, museums, and design. Courses that build up to the thesis project include:
- Exhibition graphics
- Exhibition lighting
- The history of museum exhibits
- Art and design
- Museums and educational programming
Popular Career Options
Most graduates with an exhibition MFA go on to pursue jobs curating and managing exhibits at museums and other educational institutions. Other possible career options include:
- Design consultant
- Theater set designer
- Visual merchandising executive
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have data for exhibition managers, but it does have information on curators, museum technicians and conservators. The BLS expects 8% growth for curators from 2014-2024. The average growth of 5% is expected for museum technicians and conservators during the same decade. While curators earned a median annual wage of $51,520 in May 2015, museum technicians and conservators earned a median annual wage of $40,340 (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education Information
Those who want to continue their studies or expand their career opportunities beyond the exhibition management sector have several options for similar master's degree programs. A Master of Art in Museum Science and Management and a Master of Art in Museum Studies covers a wider range of museum functionality. There are also doctoral programs available in museum studies.
An exhibition management master's degree prepares students for work in designing museums and other exhibits, as well as theaters, various merchandise, and much more. Students can continue their education through doctoral programs, as well as enroll in other master's degrees in similar fields to expand their knowledge and improve their career prospects