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Request for Information: Designers – Gardiner Museum

Community Arts Space: Art is Change, 2017.


The Gardiner Museum celebrates the art of ceramics and engages local and international audiences by promoting understanding of the long history of people crafting in clay.

The Museum is seeking letters of interest and sample portfolios from designers who are interested in working within our organizational values, developing innovative approaches to exhibition and publication design, as well as marketing and communications.

Letters of interest can be from designers interested in all or just one of the following aspects of the Museum’s work as described below.

Designers work in collaboration with our Curatorial and Marketing teams to develop concept and detailed design solutions, ensure design fits within the Gardiner brand and strategic direction, and to provide the best possible visitor experience.

Organizational Background & History

The Gardiner Museum wants people to experience ceramics as an art form that has enriched life for thousands of years, and as a craft that remains a vital medium for creativity. In a virtual world, the connection to the reality of clay, and to creating, is an imperative one. The Museum stewards a highly important collection, connecting visitors to the fundamental role of ceramics in many cultures throughout history, and offers special temporary displays, many highlighting the relevancy of ceramics to contemporary life. The Gardiner offers studio and educational programs for children and adults, as well as a varied, often audacious roster of programming that connects ceramics to important issues, usually produced with collaborators from the community. The Museum is intimate in scale and takes a personalized approach in all of its activities, even when communicating to an international audience.

True Nordic: How Scandinavia Influenced Design in Canada, 2016, installation view.

Scope of Work


Annually, the Gardiner coordinates two major special exhibitions, a large-scale onsite community arts project, and a series of smaller lobby displays.

The Museum works with exhibition designers and graphic designers to develop these shows. Recent exhibitions have included YOKO ONO: THE RIVERBED, True Nordic: How Scandinavia Influenced Design in Canada, and Janet Macpherson: A Canadian Bestiary. More examples can be viewed on our website.

The Gardiner also hosts the Community Arts Space, an incubator for arts-based community projects. In collaboration with local artists, designers, and collectives, the Museum presents five public projects on a central theme each summer. This past summer’s iteration can be viewed on our website.


The Gardiner produces publications for many of its exhibitions, from full catalogues to smaller books featuring essays and artist interviews. The Gardiner also occasionally produces collection catalogues and other scholarly publications.

Graphic Design:

Graphic designers are necessary for many of the Museum’s functions. This may include exhibition didactics, sponsorship packages, or invitations, and in some cases, require a quick-turnaround time. The Museum is looking to work with a select number of graphic designers on a contract basis to support our projects during the busiest periods.

Design Principles

Though the Gardiner is a cultural institution, the intent is to appear contemporary, innovative, and professional while not being overly formal or institutional. Designs should encapsulate the Museum’s existing graphic language and feel.

Exhibition designs must respond to the content of the exhibition in a creative way while taking display requirements into consideration. Through this RFI we hope to see examples of past work and evidence that a response was made to the specifics of each project.

Selection Criteria

Evaluation criteria will include the following:

  • Perceived fit with and understanding of the Gardiner Museum
  • Quality, compatibility of designer
  • Previous experience with cultural organizations, artists, and institutions
  • Quality and relevance of references
  • Demonstrated positive results
  • Willingness to work within the Gardiner’s capacity and resources

Format & Deadline

Please include the following in your letter of interest:

  • Overview of organization and/or principal designers history and experience
  • Key areas of focus of your work
  • Indication of which scopes of work interest you, with three examples of relevant part projects or sample portfolios
  • A brief overview of your involvement in similar projects
  • Identification of key individuals that would be responsible for carrying out the work for the Gardiner Museum, including their relevant qualifications and experience, links to examples of their past work, and the role they will play on your team
  • Indicate any past experience that your organization has had in dealing with the Gardiner Museum, if any
  • Description of past experience with other arts organizations, centres of culture, and/or artists
  • Please provide three references from previous clients that we can contact

Letters of Interest should be limited to five pages.

Deadline for Letters of Interest is October 15, 2018 and should be sent as a PDF to

Lauren Gould
Chief Operating Officer

Please forward any questions or comments should also be addressed to Lauren via e-mail. If some of your documents are too large for e-mail, please provide a link to a Google Drive.

Following the evaluation of Letters of Interest, designers will be contacted and advised if their portfolios are kept on file or if further information/in-person meeting is required.


Gardiner Museum
111 Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario
M5S 2C7





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