Museum Planning LLC

About Museum Planning, LLC

Museum Planning, LLC is a company specializing in museum planning, museum exhibition design, and museum consulting services. Founded in 1999 by Mark Walhimer, an experienced professional in the field of museum management and exhibition design, the company has earned a reputation for excellence in delivering innovative and engaging interactive museum experiences.

Mark Walhimer is widely recognized as a prominent figure in the museum industry, renowned for his profound understanding of the complexities involved in creating successful museum spaces. Under his leadership, Museum Planning, LLC has become a trusted partner for museums, cultural institutions, and organizations seeking to develop or revamp their exhibition spaces.

The company offers a comprehensive range of services meticulously tailored to meet each client’s unique needs. Museum Planning, LLC excels in strategic planning, working closely with clients to define their vision, mission, and goals for their museums. This involves conducting thorough market research, analyzing the target audience, and performing feasibility studies to ensure that the projects align with the intended audience and fulfill the client’s objectives.

In addition to strategic planning, Museum Planning, LLC provides services such as museum master planning, feasibility studies, and interactive museum exhibition design. Their team consists of experts in various fields, including museum planning, architecture, exhibition design, interpretive planning, and multimedia. Through close collaboration with clients, they develop creative concepts and transform them into immersive and educational exhibition spaces. The company ensures that each project, from initial concept development to detailed design and fabrication, is executed with precision and meticulous attention to detail.

Museum Planning, LLC also offers consulting services to assist museums in areas such as educational programming, fundraising, and operational planning. Leveraging their extensive industry knowledge, they provide tailored solutions that enhance the overall visitor experience while addressing each institution’s specific goals and challenges.

With a strong focus on innovation and a steadfast commitment to excellence, Museum Planning, LLC has successfully completed over forty turnkey museum projects worldwide, including notable ventures in Mexico City, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and the United States. The company’s diverse portfolio spans art museums, science centers, historical sites, and cultural attractions, all of which have significantly benefited from their expertise in creating captivating and immersive museum experiences.

At Museum Planning, LLC, the team recognizes the power of museums to effect meaningful change in people and communities. They firmly believe in the importance of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) and operate with a mission to research, design, build, and advocate for museums that promote civil society and personal empowerment. Their approach includes visitor-centric design, co-creation of museum content, interactivity, blended experiences encompassing digital, physical, in-person, and online elements, and shared authority.

The company’s specific focus lies in three areas of interactive family experiences: climate change, civil society, and the future of work. By centering its work around understanding community needs and plans, Museum Planning, LLC emphasizes the importance of serving all community members through visitor-centered museums that emotionally and intellectually connect with visitors from diverse backgrounds.

Museum Planning, LLC leverages the power of storytelling as an essential tool in engaging visitors. By using research-proven methodologies, they create a strong emotional and intellectual connection, transforming visitors into stakeholders who are invested in the museum’s mission. The company guides clients through the three stages of a museum visit (pre-visit, in-person visit, and post-visit) to foster a meaningful and lasting relationship between the visitor and the museum.

Employing methodologies such as user-centered design, Museum Planning, LLC ensures consistent messaging across various touchpoints, including websites, social media, museum staff visitor services, and signage. They employ tools such as Empathy Mapping, Personas, Audience Segmentation, Visitor Journey Mapping, Service Design Blueprints, System Mapping, Content Mapping, Museum Context Mapping, Stakeholder

Mapping, and the Visitor Value Proposition to enhance understanding of visitor motivations and create empathy.

Museum Planning, LLC differentiates itself by offering a unique “your exhibition department approach,” which focuses on working closely with clients from the initial stages to the opening day. This approach allows the company to provide cost-effective solutions that prioritize creating the best visitor experience while saving clients money. Unlike competitors who charge fees as a percentage of the total exhibition budget, Museum Planning, LLC charges for their work, ultimately empowering visitors and fostering a lifelong bond between the museum and its visitors.

In the new post-COVID-19 reality, where adaptability is crucial, Museum Planning, LLC emphasizes the importance of visitor-centered museums as the most likely to thrive and survive. By empowering visitors and meeting their emotional and intellectual needs, these museums are positioned for success in the ever-evolving landscape of the museum industry.

Typical Rates Museum Planning, LLC rates:

  • Museum Assessment $18,000 plus travel (minimum project retainer)
  • Museum Strategic Planning (In the range of $45k-$75k plus travel)
  • Museum Feasibility Studies (In the range of $40k-$70k plus travel)
  • Museum Master Planning (In the range of $100k plus travel)
  • Museum Exhibition Design (In the range of $60k-$200k plus travel )
  • Owners Representation / Project Management (Variable, depending on the Scope of Work)

Mark Walhimer, author of Museums 101 and Designing Museum Experiences books

Museums 101 book

Looking for an A-Z, one-stop, comprehensive book on museums? Wish you were able to have one of the world’s leading museum consultants spend a couple of days with you, talking you through how to start a museum, how museums work, how to set up an exhibit, and more? If so, Museums 101 is the answer to your wishes.

In one short volume, Mark Walhimer covers:
• Essential Background, such as what is a museum, a quick history of museums, and 10 steps to starting a museum
• Operational Basics, such as branding, marketing, strategic planning, governance, accessibility, and day-to-day operations
• What goes on behind the scenes in a museum, ranging from finances to fundraising to art handling, exhibit management, and research
• The Visitor Experience, planning a museum, designing exhibits for visitors, programming, and exhibit evaluation.

Features that even the most experienced museum professionals will find useful include a community outreach checklist, a fundraising checklist, a questionnaire for people considering starting a new museum, and an exhaustive, well-organized list of online resources for museum operations. The book’s contents were overseen by a six-member international advisory board.

Valuable appendixes you’ll use every day include a museum toolbox full of useful forms, checklists, and worksheets, and a glossary of essential museum-related terms. In addition to the printed book, Museums 101 also features a companion website exclusively for readers of the book. The website——features:

• links to essential online resources in the museum world,
• downloadable sample documents,
• a glossary,
• a bibliography of sources for further reading, and
• photographs of more than 75 museums of all types.

Designing Museum Experiences book

Designing Museum Experiences is a “how-to” book for creating visitor-centered museums that emotionally and intellectually connect with museum visitors, stakeholders, and donors.

Museums are changing from static, monolithic, and encyclopedic institutions to institutions that are visitor-centric, with shared authority that allows museum and visitors to become co-creators in content creation. Museum content is also changing, from static content to dynamic, evolving content that is multi-cultural and transparent regarding the evolution of facts and histories, allowing multi-person interpretations of events.

Designing Museum Experiences leads readers through the methods and tools of the three stages of a museum visit (Pre-visit, In-Person Visit, and Post-visit), with a goal of motivating visitors to return and revisit the museum in the future. This museum visitation loop creates meaningful intellectual, emotional, and experiential value for the visitor.

Using the business-world-proven methodologies of user centered design, Museum Visitor Experience leads the reader through the process of creating value for the visitor. Providing consistent messaging at all touchpoints (website, social media, museum staff visitor services, museum signage, etc.) creates a trusted bond between visitor and museum. The tools used to increase understanding of and encourage empathy for the museum visitor, and understand visitor motivations include: Empathy Mapping, Personas, Audience segmentation, Visitor Journey Mapping, Service Design Blueprints, System Mapping, Content Mapping, Museum Context Mapping, Stakeholder Mapping, and the Visitor Value Proposition.

In the end, the reason for using the tools is to empower visitors and meet their emotional and intellectual needs, with the goal of creating a lifelong bond between museum and visitor. This is especially important as museums face a new post COVID-19 reality; only the most nimble, visitor-centered museums are likely to survive.

The companion website to Designing Museum Experiences features:

  • Links to additional visitor-centered museum information
  • Downloadable sample documents and templates
  • Bibliography of sources for further reading
  • Online glossary of museum visitor experience terms
  • Daily checklists of “how-to” provide and receive visitor-centered experiences
  • More than 50 associated Designing Museum Experiences documents