Creating Successful Exhibits

Hosted by Crowne Plaza Clayton
St. Louis, MO
2023 Date TBD

Creating Successful Exhibits provides an integrated overview of a team-based exhibit development process. The course follows the phases of an exhibit project from the formation of the team, through concept planning, design and construction, to operation, in chronological order of the tasks. Full attention is given to techniques that improve an exhibit's impact on visitors. This program is a classroom-based workshop and does not include hands-on training in fabrication.

Course Objectives

Course participants will work in small groups on a week-long project that incorporates all of these topics. At the end of the week, each group will make a formal presentation to the class.

  • Function of Exhibits

  • Developing Exhibits

  • Concept Development Phase

    • Feasibility Studies

    • Understanding the Institutional Review Process

  • Design Development Phase

    • Refining the Program

    • Utilizing External Consultants

    • Schematic Phase

    • Tools of Design

    • Developing Budgets and Timelines

    • Interpretive Techniques and Technology

    • Audience/Marketing Research/Evaluation

    • Fabrication, Horticulture, Green Design

    • Communication

  • Construction Phase

    • Practical Considerations

    • Communications

  • Post Opening & Review Phase

Course Schedule

First Day
 - Arrival on Monday
 - Course activities, including student registration, begin after 4 PM
 - Opening evening reception
 - Courses meet for individual opening session/class

- Class meets all day 

Last Day
- Class meets all day 
- Closing reception

Attendance for course participants is required for the duration of the course until late afternoon on the last day (typically by 4:00 PM but schedules are subject to change - students will receive scheduled times once admitted to the course).


Mary Brong, Director of Exhibits and Interpretives - St. Louis Zoo
Heather Doggett
, Chief Operations Officer - Loveland Living Planet Aquarium
Jason Hill
, Principal - SH | R Studios
Margaret Innes
, Director of Animal Operations - Maryland Zoo
Scott Perich
, Director of Long Range Planning and Strategic Design - National Aquarium
Terry O'Connor, Partner - Pathways Collaborative

Is This Course Right For You?

This course is designed for zoo/aquarium staff involved in exhibit development, animal care, conservation education, design and graphics, research, facilities, marketing and operations.

None. Priority will be given to AZA members. International applicants and those not affiliated with an AZA accredited institution will be considered on a case-by-case basis;  please submit a letter describing your intended benefit from taking this course.

Travel & Accommodations

Air Travel
Lambert Saint Louis International Airport (STL) is the closest airport.

Classes meet on site at Crowne Plaza Clayton in St. Louis, Missouri and course participants are encouraged to stay on site. The hotel rate is $117 per night, and reservations can be made online until October 9th. For more information, please email

Please wait until you are admitted into the course before making your reservations. You will receive an email containing detailed information regarding your accommodations and transportation once you are admitted.

Course Registration

AZA Accredited / Certified Institutions*
Early Bird Rate:
 Deadline 12 weeks prior to course start date
$1125 with Individual AZA Membership 
$1325 without Individual AZA Membership

Regular Rate: Deadline 4 weeks prior to course start date
$1325 with Individual AZA Membership 
$1525 without Individual AZA Membership

Individual Membership must be Professional Affiliate or Professional Fellow to qualify.

Non-AZA Institutions
Early Bird Rate:
 Deadline 12 weeks prior to course start date
$1325 with Professional Associate Membership

Regular Rate: Deadline 4 weeks prior to course start date
$1525 with Professional Associate Membership

Individual Membership Requirement
Staff from non-AZA accredited institutions must have an individual AZA membership to apply and register for an AZA course.

For information regarding our registration and refund policies, please visit our Professional Development Course Policies page. Accepted forms of payment for registration are by credit card, check, or purchase order.

To register with a credit card
You may now register and pay online with a credit card! Non-members can log in too, after creating a free account. After logging in, choose "Professional Development" from the menu on the left. Next, click on the title of the event for which you would like to register. Finally, choose "Event Registration" from the options at the top and complete the registration process. When registering online, there is no need to submit the registration form. You will receive an acceptance email or waitlist email once acceptance decisions are made. 

To register with a check or purchase order
Please email your request to register, specifying the course and the name of whom you would like to register, to the Professional Development Coordinator.
Checks sent for course payment will be cashed immediately upon receipt as per standard business practices. Cashing your check does not indicate that you have been accepted into a course. You will receive an acceptance email or a waitlist email once acceptance decisions are made. If you are not admitted into the course from the waitlist, a full refund will be promptly issued.

*Prices are subject to change

For information regarding our code of conduct, registration, and refund policies, please visit our Professional Development Course Policies page.

Questions? For additional details please contact the AZA Professional Development Department.

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