When Baseball Went to War: Behind the Scenes of a Museum Exhibit

Hi, I’m Markus Dohner, Exhibit Specialist for the National Museum of the American Sailor. Here at the National Museum of the American Sailor, we design most of our exhibits in-house. In this blog entry, we are going to give you a brief peek at the design process for our “When Baseball Went to War” exhibition.

Baseball Gallery Blog

Every exhibit we design starts off as a two-dimensional plan. This plan shows the overall organization of the exhibit. Things that we consider when designing are the circulation, sight lines, and a color palette. This drawing has a color palette for all the walls and cases.


Scale models such as this one help the exhibit team understand the spatial relationships inside the gallery. You can literally drop a wall down and view the same scenes as a visitor would.

Diamond Panels - 4 new NMAS Lo-Res 4thpan

Graphic designs for the exhibit are created next. Exhibit panels such as this one are a combination of images and text to convey the message of the curator. Color palettes for graphics and paint colors help to convey a mood or feeling for the exhibition. This exhibit, which was originally designed by the Puget Sound Naval Museum, was supplemented with additional panels and artifacts by NMAS.

Closed photo

Before you can install a new exhibition, the previous exhibit must be removed, or de-installed. After the previous show is safely put away, gallery walls are rearranged and painted.


Installing walls for the new Baseball exhibit. After walls are put in place then we paint the gallery.



Painting the exhibit walls and cases.



Installing the mannequin and the opening wall. In addition to staff support, the museum’s fantastic volunteers provide support for the exhibit’s installation.


Contract curator, Dan Smaczny and Markus Dohner taking a break from all the hard work of installing exhibits!


Baseball_Panorama2Baseball_Panorama3Baseball_Panorama4Baseball Installation Views_25Baseball Installation Views_03Installation views of When Baseball Went to War.                             Photos: Markus Dohner

Visit the National Museum of the American Sailor to learn more about the U.S. Navy’s connection to baseball in our special exhibition When Baseball Went To War. You can also watch the exhibit’s companion video When Baseball Went to War: From Ship to Shore on the NMAS YouTube channel.




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