Ralph Appelbaum

When Ralph Appelbaum began his career three decades ago, designing an exhibition might have meant little more than specifying wall color and pedestal dimensions. Today, the museum designer creates exhibitions that rival movie sets in technical complexity and books in narrative intensity. Appelbaum’s designs have transformed museums from temples into public forums. For each project, he assembles a cast of architects, model makers, historians, and childhood specialists—as well as poets and scientists. The diversity of talent on his teams underscores Appelbaum’s conviction that communication is a holistic enterprise, involving all three dimensions and all five senses. Appelbaum has honed the exhibition into one of the most persuasive and pleasurable means of communicating knowledge. His important projects include the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the Museum of African American History in Detroit, and various exhibition halls at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

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