Graduate Certificate in Exhibit Design

The 18-Credit Graduate Exhibit Design Certificate Program can be completed in one year and provides students with the tools needed to meet the increasing demand for top-tier exhibits. From corporate and convention center spaces on showroom floors to sophisticated displays in museums, science centers, and high-end department stores, the Graduate Certificate in Exhibit Design cuts across disciplines to teach foundational techniques using modern tools and digital technology.  The program takes full advantage of GW’s long-term collaborative relationship with the Smithsonian Institution, and students design and install a minimum of two exhibits at the National Air and Space Museum and on the GW campus. Certificate students draw from three university disciplines to customize their programs.

  • Museum Studies provides the programmatic backbone to collaborative exhibit development, including organizational and theoretical best practices, and content interpretation.
  • Interior Design supports the design process with an aesthetic as well as a practical understanding of ergonomic, architectural, and ADA considerations.
  • Theatre & Dance supports the exhibit process with a design approach that emphasizes spatial environments and narrative development.


The faculty is comprised of talented scholars and practicing professionals, including Carl Gudenius, co-director of this new certificate program, co-chair of the Department of Theatre & Dance, and principal designer of Design Concept Presentations; Barbara Brennan, co-director of the certificate program and former Exhibition Designer and Chair of the Exhibits Design and Technology Department at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum; Kym Rice, director of the Museum Studies Program and award-winning exhibition developer and curator; and Stephanie Travis, director of the Interior Design Program and former senior architectural designer for acclaimed design firm Vicente Wolf Associates, Inc. in New York City.


The program is geared toward working professionals and graduating seniors holding undergraduate degrees in interior or architectural design, museum studies, graphic design, fine arts, or theatre. Admission will also be based on a strong understanding of design aesthetics, as demonstrated in a portfolio of approximately 10 pieces, and practical skills to develop and execute visual designs. In addition, the applicant must meet the University's entrance requirements for certificate candidates.

Application Process

  • New students: Apply online (current GWU students contact Carl Gudenius at or Barbara Brennan at for application instructions)
  • Submit a portfolio (or statement of experience) to
  • Current Museum Studies, Theater & Dance, and Interior Design students: No need to apply online, but students must submit a portfolio (or statement of experience) and a resume to
  • Questions? Contact Carl Gudenius at or Barbara Brennan at
Portfolio may also be sent by regular mail to:
Carl Gudenius
800 21st Street, NW Suite 227
Washington, DC 20052
Barbara Brennan
1310 G street, NW
Suite 690
Washington, DC 20005


  • 3 credits in Museum Exhibition: Design Processes
  • 3 credits in Projects in Exhibition Design (a capstone course)
  • 12 credits of electives from each department--Interior Design, Museum Studies, and Theater & Dance. Students may replace one elective with an approved intership in a museum exhibit design department or professional design studio.


Sampling of Electives

Interior Architecture and Design
INTD 6205   Interior Materials
INTD 6210   Sketching Architecture and Interiors (hand drafting)
INTD 6301   Graphic Communications (Adobe Design Suite)
INTD 6210   Digital Drafting and Modeling (CAD and Revit)

Museum Studies

MSTD 6302    Museum Exhibition: Design Processes (culminates in installed exhibit at National Air and Space Museum)
MSTD 6302.1 Advanced Museum Exhibition Design (culminates in installed exhibit on GW campus or National Air and Space Museum)
MSTD 6203    Preventive Conservation Concepts
MSTD 6204    Exhibition Development (team work, scripting, learning styles, evaluation)

Theater & Dance

TRDA 6331  Intermediate Lighting Design
TRDA 6335  Intermediate Scene Design
TRDA 6340  Period Styles
TRDA 6344  Production Drafting
TRDA 6348  Techniques in Design Presentations (Perspective rendering, Sketch-up)
TRDA 1330  Basics of Production Design

Contact Us

For more information about the program, call 202-994-0740 or send an e-mail to

Additional Information

Find out more information about our graduation rates, median debt of students who completed the program, and other important information by clicking here.