Timothy J. McNeil – research / practice


CREATIVE Research focus

My creative practice and writing explore the exhibition/experience as a medium for the effective communication of objects, information, and narratives. This design research results in engaging storytelling environments, participatory encounters, and accessible content that informs, educates, and inspires people of all ages and backgrounds. I advance the museum, exhibition, and attraction design field by investigating and documenting the philosophical approaches to functionality and aesthetics, the multimodal methods used to convey information, hold a person/participant’s attention, and the impact these have on community and visitor engagement. My creative work defines exhibition making and proves that the designer’s contribution is at the core of meaningful audience interactions. Three avenues of inquiry run concurrently through my research and creative projects:

  • Contribution design plays in the communication of objects, ideas and information in the exhibition environment
  • Strategies for meaningful audience engagement with an emphasis on the interpretative and participatory experience
  • Environmental sustainability and its impact on the functionality and aesthetics of exhibition design

Many of my design projects are connected to the expanded definition of what constitutes an “exhibition” and related environments. They are the result of  collaborative partnerships with specialists, curators, experts, and other designers. Each project is peer reviewed or subjected to critique in accordance with the typical design and development process. I take great pride in knowing that my creative work fosters learning and has a positive impact on the experiences of countless individuals.

Recent work

Current projects


Previous work

Selected Projects 1997–2019


Graduate student research


Graphic Design USA Award. Signage and Wayfinding System, the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California, Davis.


International Design and Communication Awards. IGNITE: Museums as Catalysts for Sustainability. Best Sustainable Campaign.


Bookbuilder West Award. Exhibition catalogue “Treasures Through Six Generations”, category: Trade, Design, Image Driven.

Publishers Association of the West Book Design Awards. Exhibition catalogue “Treasures Through Six Generations”.


The National Environmental Hall of Fame. Inducted for promoting environmental awareness “Green Museums”.


Society for Environmental Graphic Design. Merit award for design excellence. Wayfinding and signage system for the Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA.

University & College Designers Association. Design award for “Sculptural Prototypes” exhibit invitation, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA.

American Association of Museums. MUSE honorable mention for interpretation and education in an exhibition on art. “Devices of Wonder: from a World in a Box to Images on a screen” at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA.

International Webby Awards. Excellence in web design, creativity, usability and function. Web site for the exhibition “Devices of Wonder: from a World in a Box to Images on a screen” at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA.

American Association of Museums. Excellence in museum publications. Invitation for exhibition “Bill Viola: The Passions” at the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA.

University & College Designers Association. Silver Award for Excellence in Visual Communications. “Look Here” Arts Catalog 2006/07, University of California, Davis.

American Association of Museums. First prize for excellence in museum publications. Wall calendar for the exhibition “Noah’s Ark” at the Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, CA.