John W. Kelton, designer

John has over 20 years of experience at all levels of the exhibits industry, including planning, design for exhibits and graphics, detailing, fabrication and installation. With a background in architecture, industrial design and theater, he has the ability to conceive ideas for an exhibit project and implement them while maintaining the integrity of the original concept. Data gathered from formative and front-end evaluations is used to focus the design on the needs of the visitor. In every project, he works closely with the site director, museum curator, museum historian, and vendors to deliver a successful project.

Mr. Kelton continues to share his expertise in exhibit planning, design and fabrication by conducting workshops with regional museum associations and university design studios. He holds a Bachelor’s of Industrial Design with Business Minor from Auburn University and has studied Museum Visitor Design Psychology at Jacksonville State University.

John Kelton at the Alabama Museum Association Meeting.


Kelton Design starts by listening to your vision for your project. We will walk you through each phase of the project – research, design, final design,  fabrication and remedial evaluation. With a design/build contract Kelton Design can fabricate the exhibit, or with a design only contract Kelton does the design work and writes an exhibit specifications package complete with written specs, construction drawings, and a graphics package. After the exhibit specifications are written, they would be advertised for competitive bid and awarded to the "lowest, most responsible, bidder." Kelton has written exhibit specs in accordance with local and state bid laws for the Alabama Historical Commission, City of Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama, and US Space and Rocket Center.


Kelton Design uses the same graphic design software as everyone else, but the difference is knowing how to use images and text to communicate complex ideas. This comes from over 20 years of experience in knowing what will and will not work in a given situation. Rest assured that when graphics are handed over to the printer or fabricator, they are "production ready."


Kelton Design is adept at bringing diverse interests to the planning table to shape the vision of your project. Recently, Kelton coordinated the exhibits, graphics, and artifact selection for the Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum by working with the City of Tuscaloosa, the University of Alabama Museums, the Alabama Historical Commission, Ward Scott Veron Architects, and a host of local Tuscaloosa historians.


Kelton Design uses the principles of visitor studies on all exhibit projects. We have found that asking visitors what they think about proposed exhibit designs, graphics, label copy, and interactives will go a long way in delivering a successful exhibit. At Vulcan Park and Museum we asked visitors the question, "What do you think is inside Vulcan - the world's largest cast iron statue?" Their answers led to exhibits about the statue's restoration and internal structure.