Michael Lawrence

Chief of Design for the Office of Exhibits, National Museum of Natural History

As the Chief of Design for the Office of Exhibits at the National Museum of Natural History, Mike Lawrence is responsible for the design quality of all permanent and temporary exhibits, graphics and signage within the Museum. He provides oversight and guidance to contract design firms on major exhibits such as the Sant Ocean Hall and the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins to ensure the architecture, exhibits, graphics and support materials meet the Smithsonian’s high standards for quality, durability, accessibility, and visitor enjoyment. Lawrence and his staff design temporary exhibits generated by the Museum and adapt traveling exhibits from other institutions to meet Museum requirements. 

A registered architect with many years of experience in the adaptive re-use of historic structures for contemporary use, Lawrence serves as the design liaison between the Office of Public Programs and the Smithsonian Office of Facilities Engineering and Operations, and their contracted architectural and engineering firms, for renovation projects within the Museum. He recently worked with the Office of Education and Outreach on the development of Q?rius, a groundbreaking facility for interactive discovery and learning about the natural world.

Previously, Lawrence served as Senior Architect and Designer for MFM Design, Inc., a Washington DC exhibit design firm. He contributed to the planning, content development, architectural planning and design of major exhibitions for the Smithsonian Institution, Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, National Park Service, and such private museums as the Frazier International History Museum in Louisville, KY and the Tomo Kikuchi Museum, Tokyo. Lawrence completed undergraduate studies in fine arts and education at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland, OH, and received a Master of Architecture degree with honors from The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC.  He has served as an instructor in architectural history at the University of Maryland and at Catholic University, and as a design instructor and thesis studio chair at the latter institution. He resides in Washington, DC.