Trajan Market Museum Exhibit Design

Six teams—each with students from graphic design, industrial design and interior design—created unique design concepts for a museum exhibit celebrating the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s death in 1821 for the Trajan Market Museum in Rome.


Iowa State University

Practice Area


Trajan Market Museum


The Challenge

An interdisciplinary design studio class was broken into three main phases to help students develop their proposals but executed in a manner that allowed individual teams to take ownership of the project. Design concepts were competitively presented to help realize the optimal design for realization in the Italian Museum.

Project Vision

Through the creation of a comprehensive exhibit design proposal, an interdisciplinary student team depicts Napoleon’s life, the empire he built, and his complex, multifaceted relationship with Rome. Three team instructors, representative of the student’s home departments, mentored project concepts through these phases that also included a site visit to Rome. Each team developed their own overarching concept, narrative, identity, graphics and dimensional mock-ups of their spaces.

Contoured Napoleon head with hidden graphics

Iowa State University

Exhibit Rendering- Banksy Art

Iowa State University

Interactive Exhibit – Screen 1

Iowa State University

Interactive Exhibit – Screen 2

Iowa State University

Design + Execution

The graphics demonstrate how the branding and exhibit graphics engage the audience to unravel Napoleon’s life narrative interwoven with the display of related Roman antiquities. The lifework in the design throughout represented the varied topography of Rome, the incomplete realization of Napoleon’s vision, and the excavations Napoleon was responsible for, which unearthed, maintained, and recovered many of the antiquities displayed in today’s museums. In addition, there are hidden figures of Paris and Napoleon in the key identity graphic developed for the project.

Exhibit Rendering – Temporary with permanent collection

Iowa State University

Trajan Market Museum – Entrance

Iowa State University

Museum gift store designs

Iowa State University

Project Details
The deconstructed colored plexiglass sculpture in this project creates a complex and striking play of three-dimensional shape, color, and light.
Juror 1
This student project understood that place matters. The beautiful architecture w not hidden but celebrated. I liked how the colorful interventions enhanced both the space and the artifacts.
Juror 2
Design Team

Noor Gettan (graphic design)
Paige Robinson (graphic design)
Nicole Ruzbasan (interior design)
Sam Burris (interior design)


Andrea Quam (instructor, graphic designer)
Mike Ford (instructor, interior designer)
Pete Evans (instructor, industrial designer/architect)
Simone Bove (instructor on Rome)
Silvia Aloisio (architect in Rome)

Photo Credits

Iowa State University

Open Date

March 2021