Indoor exhibits provide visitors with opportunities for enhanced orientation to the park, for increased understanding of park stories, and to make meaningful connections to park resources. Effective visitor center exhibits sensitively present artifacts in context, accurately depict historic and natural scense at large scale, feature tactile elements such as replicas and landscape models, bring stories to life with audiovisual programs, and invite visitor engagement with robust interactives and audience-centered experiences. See examples of our work in our exhibits portfolio page.
Making media accessible to visitors with disabilities makes our products even better and is critical in all stages all stages of the planning, design and production process. For more information about programmatic accessibility for National Park Service interpretive media, please visit HFC's Accessibility webpage. A good place to start is the accessibility guidelines. Please also explore this page for specific topics and additional resources.
Museum and Vistor Center Exhibit Planning, Design, and Fabrication Process
The raw materials of exhibit development - graphics, objects, text, and digital media - combine to interpret park resources and themes. Universal Design principles inform design solutions, with accessibility features developed from the beginning of the project. Coordination with architects and facility managers is essential, whether the exhibits are installed in a new building or in a rehabilitated visitor center. The impact of exhiits on visitor flow, using energy-efficient lighting, and ensuring the sustainability of interactives and electronics must all be carefully considered during exhibit development. Having an inclusive, participatory, and collaborative process is the hallmark of contemporary exhibit planning and design practice, including conducting evaluations with the public. The NPS Standard Exhibit Planning, Design, and Fabrication Specifications and process charts guide in-house staff and contracts throughout the process.
Exhibit Development for the National Park Service is primarly accomplished by contracing with professional design firms. Harpers Ferry Center manages Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contracts for exhibit planning and design, and for exhibit fabrication and installation. Harpers Ferry Center also manages exhibit design-build contracts, which combine planning, design, and fabrication into one "turn-key" exhibit project.
Parks are encouraged to contract Harpers Ferry Center to explore exhibit development options, and for assistance in developing comprehensive cost estimates to inform PMIS requests. Center staff can also provide consultation and tools to begin park planning efforts in advance of contract award, including preparing Interpretive Resource Packages.
Last updated: December 17, 2018