With offices in New York, London, and Beijing, Ralph Appelbaum Associates provides interpretive museums and learning centers with interdisciplinary planning and design services.
Its staff of 130 planners, architects, designers and content experts serves clients with challenging missions in the area of public education. Over the past three decades, the firm has completed more than 250 commissions in the fields of social, cultural and natural history at a variety of museums, memorials and heritage projects in more than 50 cities worldwide.
RAA is best known for the design of permanent, large-scale museum projects requiring a marriage of complex educational content with physical environments that are compelling and accessible. Eighty-five installations, planned and designed by RAA, currently enjoy a combined 30 million visitors each year.
In addition to the Newseum, RAA has collaborated with Polshek Partnership Architects on the critically acclaimed William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., and the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Other RAA commissions include the original Newseum in Arlington, Va.; the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; the renovated Dinosaur Halls at the American Museum of Natural History in New York; the new Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y.; and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. International projects include master planning for the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, and museum design for the Royal Academy of Music in London; the Museum of the Portuguese Language in Sao Paolo, Brazil; and the Museum of World Religions in Taipei, Taiwan.
Over the next two years, RAA is poised to open several major commissions, ranging from the new museum at the United States Capitol Visitors Center, to the Royal Museum of Scotland, to a theme pavilion at the World Expo in Spain.
Ralph Appelbaum has had extensive involvement in every facet of museum planning and exhibition design. He first worked as a United States Peace Corps volunteer and with the U.S. AID mission as design adviser to southern Peru, developing design and marketing capabilities for Andean artisans in cooperation with the development agency of Peru’s second-largest city. Upon his return to the United States in 1969, he was appointed director of the northeast program of Project Earning Power, a nationwide effort with the design and business community to develop and design products uniquely suited for production by the handicapped.
He established RAA in 1978 with the mission of bringing interdisciplinary communications and design services to interpretive museums, and has since served state and national governments and the world’s foremost foundations and philanthropies, as well.
Appelbaum has won virtually every major award for museum design, including the Presidential Award for Design Excellence, the Federal Design Achievement Award, Designs of the Decade from the Industrial Designers Society of America, and more than 130 other awards from organizations around the world. He has been named Designer of the Year by Interiors magazine, elected a fellow of the Society for Environmental Graphic Design, received the first National Design Award in Communications Design from the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and been given a Legends Award by Pratt Institute.
Appelbaum graduated from Pratt Institute and received an honorary doctorate degree from the Massachusetts College of Art. He served for more than 12 years as an adjunct associate professor in the Museum Studies Program of the Graduate School of Arts and Science, New York University, and also taught at Pratt Institute. For the past 20 years, he has lectured around the world on subjects relating to museums and their role in society. He is married to the painter Madelynn Gingold, has one son, Nicholas, and lives in New York City.