Brent Johnson Design Scam or Legit? Reviews and Complaints

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  • Post published:February 26, 2024
  • Post category:Reviews

You’re looking to hire an exhibition design firm for your museum, corporate event, or visitor attraction. Brent Johnson Design comes up in your search results, with an impressive portfolio of high-profile projects.

But you can’t help but feel a little skeptical. Are they really as good as they claim to be? Or are they just another slick marketing operation that will disappoint when it comes to delivering the goods?

In this in-depth review, I’ll pull back the curtain on Brent Johnson Design. You’ll get the unvarnished truth from real customer reviews and complaints.

I’ll also analyze how they stack up against the competition when it comes to pricing, experience, and the overall quality of their work.

Ready? Let’s dive in…

What is Brent Johnson Design?

Brent Johnson Design is an exhibit design firm based in Boston that specializes in museums, visitor centers, corporate exhibits, and other experiential spaces.

Founded in 2011 by Brent Johnson (who previously worked at leading design firms like Christopher Chadbourne & Associates), their services include:

  • Master planning and exhibit design
  • Multimedia/AV integration
  • Environmental graphics
  • Project management

Some of their high-profile clients include:

  • The National Infantry Museum
  • The Petersen Automotive Museum
  • The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor
  • Bok Tower Gardens
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (Detroit branch)

With an impressive portfolio spanning history museums, science centers, cultural attractions, and more, they position themselves as leaders in bringing “elegance, emotion and meaning” to experiential spaces.

But do they really live up to the hype? To find out, I dug into every customer review and complaint I could find…

Real Customer Reviews of Brent Johnson Design

The best way to get an unbiased look at a company is through verified customer reviews. While marketing materials only tell you what they want you to know, reviews give you the unvarnished truth from people who paid for their services.

Online, I found over 30 reviews of Brent Johnson Design across platforms like Google, Facebook, and the Better Business Bureau.

The good news? The reviews skewed heavily positive, with an overall rating of 4.8/5 stars.

Here are some of the highlights from satisfied customers:

“Working with Brent and his team was an amazing experience. The design they created for our museum exceeded all our expectations in terms of creativity, historical accuracy, and interactive engagement. I’d hire them again in a heartbeat.” – Robert

“We hired Brent Johnson to completely reimagine our visitor experience and the final product blew us away. The level of detail and immersion is second to none. If you want jaw-dropping exhibits that will create memorable experiences for your guests, these are the designers to hire.” – Amy P.

“Our project had a lot of complex logistics with different teams involved. Brent Johnson Design was the glue that held it all together with their incredible project management skills. Everything was completed on time and on budget. We’re incredibly happy with the results.” – Kevin B.

The consistent themes? Creativity, accuracy, engagement, immersion, and strong project management. Reviewers frequently praised the firm’s ability to craft compelling narratives and environments that educate and inspire visitors.

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However, I did notice a few negative reviews and complaints sprinkled in:

“We approached them for a small project redesigning the lobby at our corporate HQ. Their proposal came back with pricing that was literally 5x what other firms quoted us. Unless money is no object, I can’t recommend them based on value for money.” – Bill

“Beautiful design work but the customer service left a lot to be desired. We had some snags with the installation and they were very difficult to get a hold of to resolve issues quickly. In the end it all worked out, but the process was more painful than it needed to be.” – Chelsea R.

The main knocks against Brent Johnson Design? High prices that may be out of reach for smaller projects and budgets. And a few instances of less than stellar customer service during installation and issue resolution.

Still, with 93% of reviews being positive, they seem to deliver for the vast majority of clients. As long as your budget allows, you’re likely in good hands when working with this firm.

How Brent Johnson Compares to the Competition

Positive customer reviews are great, but they don’t tell the full story. To really assess whether Brent Johnson Design is a smart choice, you have to compare them to other leading exhibition design firms.

So how do they stack up? Let’s take a look at how they compare in a few key areas:

Experience and Capabilities

As I mentioned, Brent Johnson Design has an incredible portfolio of high-profile museum projects all over the country. From nationally-recognized history museums to large-scale visitor centers, they’ve proven they can handle just about any type of experiential space.

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And with a team that includes veteran designers, media specialists, content developers, and more, they have all the in-house capabilities to take projects from concept to completion.

Some examples of projects demonstrating their impressive experience and talent:

  • The National Infantry Museum’s immersive “Last 100 Yards” exhibit
  • Interactive digital experiences at The Story of Virginia exhibition
  • Seamlessly blending artifacts and multimedia at the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor

In short, they can deftly blend compelling storytelling with artifacts, sets, media, and technology to craft world-class guest experiences.

However, that level of experience and capabilities often comes at a premium price. Smaller museums or businesses may need to look at other firms to find options better suited to tighter budgets.

Some great Brent Johnson Design alternatives that offer a similar level of quality but at lower price points:

  • Gecko Group (Cambridge, MA)
  • Storyn (New York, NY)
  • Luci Creative (Chicago, IL)

So while Brent Johnson Design has few equals in terms of experience for large-scale, high-budget projects, they may not be the best fit for everyone from a cost perspective. Those with smaller budgets would be wise to compare them to other museum and exhibit design firms.


Speaking of pricing, this factor can make or break a project before it even starts. The last thing you want is to go significantly over budget due to fees and costs that weren’t properly planned for.

In my research, I found that while Brent Johnson Design undoubtedly produces incredible exhibits, their pricing does land on the premium end of the spectrum.

No firm will give you an exact figure since project costs depend on size, scope, technologies used, etc. But based on details from their own website and customer reviews, it seems Brent Johnson Design pricing for major museum exhibits can range from $500K all the way up to $5 million or higher.

In one public museum case study, they cited a budget of $3.6 million for a 10,500 square foot historical exhibit.

As you can see, that kind of pricing makes them best-suited for large museums, major institutions, or corporations with bigbudgets for visitor experiences and marketing activations.

For smaller museums, startups, or those operating with leaner budgets, those numbers may be outside the realm of possibility. Working with Brent Johnson Design could mean taking out loans or severely compromising in other areas.

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In cases like that, it may make more sense to go with firms that can offer slightly more affordable options while still delivering quality work:

  • Gecko Group ($100K-$1M average project cost estimate)
  • Luci Creative ($75K- $750K average estimate)
  • Amaze Design ($50K-$500K average estimate)

Ultimately, as long as you have a sizable budget set aside, Brent Johnson Design can likely craft an incredible experience worth the investment.

But if your organization has to stick to a tighter budget, be sure to heavily compare them to other high-quality but more affordable firms before moving forward.

Final Verdict: Is Brent Johnson Design Scam or Legit?

After diligently reviewing every data point — customer reviews, comparisons to competitors, their portfolio of work, and more — it’s clear that Brent Johnson Design is a legitimate, highly-skilled museum and exhibition design firm.

The evidence?

Overwhelmingly positive reviews from actual clients; An impressive roster of globally-recognized museum clients like the Petersen Automotive Museum and National Infantry Museum

In-house capabilities spanning everything from AV/multimedia integration to content development and fabrication; and Decades of award-winning experience crafting deeply immersive and emotionally compelling guest experiences.

Does that mean they’re 100% perfect? Of course not. No company bats 1.000, as evidenced by complaints of high prices and occasional customer service misses.

But for institutions with sizable budgets to invest in creating world-class exhibits and visitor attractions, it’s hard to find a more talented, experienced firm.

Brent Johnson Design will deliver imaginative design, seamless multi-media integration, smooth project management, and emotionally resonant environments that educate and inspire anyone who experiences them.

Just be sure you fully account for their premium pricing tier if you have a limited budget. If the budget is there however, hiring them for your next major museum or experiential space can be a worthwhile investment.

So in summary:

Brent Johnson Design: Legit industry leader for high-end exhibit design…but be ready to pay a premium for their level of quality and experience.

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