With more than 50 years experience (40 in museum staff positions) in object care, exhibition design, and building operations, Walker has a unique experience base not only in creating beautiful and engaging exhibitions and experiences, but also in assuring that the infrastructure supporting the design is solid and appropriate for the specific application. From addressing concerns regarding access, both physical and conceptual, to concerns around fundraising, budgeting, marketing, security, object care, and conservation quality climate control—he has done it all. He has also managed major construction, expansion, and renovation projects at several museums.
Walker played a major role in the daily operations of Museum of the Moving Image over the last 35 years, serving as an exhibition design consultant on and off between 1989 and 2001, and then joining the Museum as a Deputy Director for Exhibitions in August 2001. His responsibilities were quickly expanded at various stages to include institutional identity and design, collection management, building operations, visitor experience and security, and he played a major role in the Museum’s overall $68M expansion and renovation, resulting in a grand reopening in January 2011. This was quickly followed by overseeing the design and construction of a gallery dedicated to exploring the work of Jim Henson that opened in 2017, alongside organizing a major traveling exhibition that explored Jim Henson’s world, and managing the tour of it to 10 different museums across the United States.
Walker’s background in exhibition design and management is extensive, starting in the early 1980’s organizing exhibitions in alternative spaces such as The First Women’s Bank (1980-85), at 57th Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan, and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch at Grand Army Plaza (1985-89) in Brooklyn. Walker’s first museum-based exhibition design position was at The Studio Museum in Harlem (1984-86), and he went on from there to direct a broad range of design and installation projects for many different museums in both the US and internationally.
Notable exhibition design projects include the 1st prize-winning official U.S. exhibition of works by Martin Puryear at the 20th São Paulo Bienal (1989); Richard Yarde’s The Savoy Ballroom installation in Paris (1986), on behalf of The Studio Museum in Harlem as part of the centennial celebrations of the Statue of Liberty; the Grey Art Gallery/NYU’s Success is a Job in New York: The Early Art and Business of Andy Warhol (1988-92), including management of the very successful international tour with guest curator Donna DeSalvo. Walker also designed DeSalvo’s exhibition A Museum Looks at Itself: Mapping Past & Present at the Parrish, 1897-1992 for the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton, NY (1992); he directed a team from Ralph Applebaum Associates on the design and installation of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor exhibition at Sotheby’s NY prior to the auction (1997-98), alongside management of the very special installation of the T-Rex Sue (1997), now a major feature of the Field Museum in Chicago; he designed The Asia Society's multi-museum exhibition Traditions Tensions, Contemporary Art in Asia (1996-97) at The Asia Society, The Queens Museum, and Grey Art Gallery/NYU, followed by InsideOut: New Chinese Art (1997-98) at The Asia Society and P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center. Two years later he took charge of overall management, design, and installation of the first Greater New York (2000) exhibition at P.S.1, which involved working with each of the 30 curators from MoMA and P.S.1, and each of the 147 artists.
Walker’s exhibitions at Museum of the Moving Image have included a broad range of topics and moving image content and formats, ranging from the original physical installation of The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials 1952-1992 that Walker designed as a consultant in 1992—which is now an ongoing, online exhibition that gets updated with each presidential election cycle—to many exhibitions that have explored various aspects of the moving image. These include the Museum's ongoing core exhibition Behind the Screen, where the history, science, art, and business of the moving image is explored, alongside many notable changing exhibitions, such as Jim Campbell: Rhythms of Perception (2014); Mathew Weiner’s Mad Men (2014-15); Walkers: Hollywood Afterlives in Art and Artifact (2015); Martin Scorsese (2016-17); and What’s Up Doc? The Animation Art of Chuck Jones (2014-15).
Wendell Walker Design, LLC is based in New York City's East Village and offers a broad range of services, including:
Exhibition Design - Based in Vectorworks, designing full plans and elevations as required for specific projects, including overall gallery layout and wall construction, electrical and AV infrastructure, custom furniture and display cases, graphics, and lighting.
Project management - From conception through design and up to the opening, including the creation and evaluation of bid packages, creation of agreements and contracts, development and management of production schedules, management of staffing and contractor workflow, and close outs.
Lighting Design- From one specific object to a full gallery, and ranging from specification of new systems, fixtures, bulbs and accessories, to working with existing systems and instruments to achieve the best results possible.
Custom Furniture and Millwork - Design and construct a broad range of structures for the proper display and support of fine art objects in gallery settings, as well as home and office environments.
Private Collectors Services - Provide a broad range of services for individuals, ranging from advising on proper storage and display of art and delicate objects, to installation in a home environment including custom lighting and advise on the creation of appropriate ambience to support the objects on view.