Exhibit Preparator/Designer -- University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History, a unit in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, is currently closed and will re-open in 2019 in two stages with all new exhibits and programs in the new Biological Sciences Building. This is an exciting opportunity to be part of the once-in-a-century transformation of a beloved campus and community institution.

How to Apply 

Visit http://careers.umich.edu/job_detail/159124/exhibitdisplay_coordinator to apply. A cover letter is required for consideration for this position and should be attached as the first page of your resume. The cover letter should address your specific interest in the position and outline skills and experience that directly relate to this position. A design portfolio will be required for review during interviews.


We are seeking an experienced exhibit designer/preparator to support our design-build contract work with an external exhibit firm, and to execute or coordinate numerous graphic design projects for internally-developed exhibit components, mostly using established design guidelines.

This full-time, two-year term-limited position will work closely with the BSB/Museum Project Manager to review detail design packages produced by the external exhibit designers and to ensure the quality of exhibit materials and fabrication. This will require periodic travel to Grand Rapids, MI and Rantoul, IL to visit fabrication workshops to review materials and construction techniques and quality.

The employee will also work closely with the Project Manager to maintain museum aesthetics and to oversee the onsite installation of exhibits developed by the external contractor. This will require oversight of deliveries and onsite installation work to ensure quality, and coordination with with LSA and BSB Facilities personnel.

The position will also work as part of our exhibits team to ensure the timely completion of exhibit components we are developing in-house. The employee will work with the Assistant Director for Exhibits to establish a schedule for design activities, with a goal of finishing the overall project on time and on- or under-budget. The position will be responsible for design, aesthetics and production—including experience design, floor plans, case layouts, graphic panels, object ID labels, printed murals, image selection, and other design tasks TBD—for several project elements.

This position will be co-supervised by the BSB/Museum Project Manager and Assistant Director for Exhibits. After the new museum opens, a similar regular position may be posted, and the incumbent would be welcome to apply.

Required Qualifications

The ideal candidate is an energetic, enthusiastic individual with the ability to work both independently and as a collaborative team member on multiple time-sensitive tasks. He or she should be a resourceful technician and creative problem solver, in addition to demonstrating self-reliance and excellent attention to detail. Must be flexible and able to prioritize projects with interruptions for time-sensitive tasks.

This position requires three to five years experience in a museum or gallery setting, and demonstrated success in exhibit preparation and exhibit experience design and graphic design.

A degree is expected in graphic or experience design, studio art, museum studies, or similar field, or related job experience / apprenticeship in comparable trade or craft.

 Exhibit Preparation: Fabrication & Installation Knowledge and Skills - approximately 60%

      Knowledge of exhibit fabrication techniques and materials, including casework, lighting, mount-making, model-making, etc. 

      Knowledge of museum standards and best practices

      Knowledge of installation procedures and techniques; experience working to install collections following museum industry best practices for collections handling and security

      Able to successfully coordinate and communicate with external contractors and internal personnel regarding exhibit deliveries, moving collections, and installation

      Knowledge of and ability to work with collections and registration staff and procedures

      Ability to critically read and understand construction and exhibit display drawings—floor plans, elevations, detail design, shop drawings, specifications, and diagrams—and make recommendations for improvements

      Ability to refine plans for exhibit-related systems installations and to coordinate with outside vendors and campus security on exhibit case alarms and video cameras

Exhibit and Graphic Design Knowledge and Skills - approximately 40%

      Able to follow graphic design templates for a variety of design tasks and to sustain overall look and feel established by building architects and contracted exhibit firm, as well as to create new designs

      Experience with 3D design (case layouts, floor plans)

      Demonstrated experience in exhibition and experience design—ability to design a small gallery in its entirety, making full use of the space and visitor kinesthetic experience, creating unique and appealing museum exhibit spaces which are visitor-centered and clearly convey content through materiality and design

      Able to draft basic construction/fabrication drawings, such as to illustrate changes and additions or create new exhibit elements

      Excellent command of Photoshop, InDesign, Sketchup, Illustrator or other similar programs

      Demonstrated ability to work with outside vendors to coordinate production of graphics and other graphic elements

      Able to work within established budgetary parameters; closely tracks expenditures


      Ability to work collaboratively with individuals and with teams—collegial and congenial

      Ability to manage multiple projects in a fast-moving environment

      Available to take periodic trips to Grand Rapids, MI and Rantoul, IL

      Basic office computer skills

Physical Requirements:

      Must possess the ability to frequently stand, walk, reach, crouch, work confidently while on ladders, scaffolding and work on high lift (certification on high-lo is preferred or on-the-job training will be required)

      Must be able to work in both confined and public spaces in the museum

      Ability to consistently lift up to 75 pounds

      Graphic Design and Exhibit Portfolio must be available for review for interview.

Desired Qualifications

      Past experience working in a science museum

      Previous specimen / artifact handling experience in a museum

      Knowledge of gallery security

      Background or education in science / natural history field

      Basic graphic production (matting, framing, mounting, etc.)

U-M EEO/AA Statement

The University of Michigan is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.

Mission Statement

The mission of the University of Michigan is to serve the people of Michigan and the world through preeminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art, and academic values, and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future.

The University of Michigan is committed to foster learning, creativity and productivity, and to support the vigorous exchange of ideas and information, not only in the classroom but in the workplace by: Creating a work environment in which people treat each other with respect and dignity, regardless of roles, responsibilities or differences. Providing support, direction and resources enabling us to accomplish the responsibilities of our jobs and to reach the goals that are set for professional and personal growth.

Commitment to Diversity

The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts seeks to recruit and retain a diverse workforce as a reflection of our commitments to serve the diverse people of Michigan, fulfill the College’s Guiding Principles, and sustain the excellence of LSA.

To learn more about diversity, equity, and inclusion visit http://lsa.umich.edu/lsa/about/diversity- equity-and-inclusion.html.

To learn more about LSA’s Guiding Principles visit http://lsa.umich.edu/lsa/faculty-staff/human-resources/lsa-staff-guiding-principles.html.

Background Check

The University of Michigan conducts background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer and may use a third party administrator to conduct background checks. Background checks will be performed in compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Application Deadline

Job openings are posted for a minimum of seven calendar days. This job may be removed from posting boards and filled anytime after the minimum posting period has ended.

Posted on the MMA website 6/27.

 The Michigan Museums Association is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Michigan Museums Association       313-334-7643       PO Box 5246, Cheboygan, MI 49721      lcbrisson@michiganmuseums.org

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