Aki Carpenter is a Principal and the Director of Social Projects at Ralph Appelbaum Associates (RAA) and has opened over ten award-winning museums and cultural institutions worldwide. Aki’s current work at RAA includes leading the exhibition design for the museum at the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, IL; the Museum of Chinese in America in New York City, NY; the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, CA; the Thaddeus Stevens and Lydia Smith Hamilton Historic Site & Museum in Lancaster, PA; the African American Museum in Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA; The Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery, Alabama; and the first phase of the Civil Rights Museum in Harlem, NY. Her most recently opened project included the creative direction for the exhibition design for the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
Aki’s passion and experience is dedicated to the development of national and international cultural institutions, with a focus on issues- and mission-based projects. She believes that a visitor experience is most memorable when the design is driven by the story. Her past and current projects seek to tell some of the most important stories of history and leadership and many address topics of social justice, activism, and community. She collaborates with curators, scholars, directors, and executives to tell compelling stories and engage the public through a range of 2D, 3D and interactive techniques. Through environmental, exhibition, and identity design, she creates experiences that inspire and connect audiences and reveal our shared humanity.
Her past work includes art direction for the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii; the International African American Museum, in Charleston, SC; the Mandela Day installation at New York’s Grand Central Terminal; and Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio; all of which have won major design awards. Aki is co-founder of BIPOC Directors Collective, an initiative by Directors of Color for fellow and future Directors of Color. She is also a founding member and Creative Director for Ripple Effect, a New Orleans based environmental education start-up dedicated to K-12 education about socio-ecological issues of climate change.