Summer Abroad UK - Instructor

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Design in Europe

Instructor Profile Image, UC Davis Summer Abroad Europe

Tim McNeil


Tim McNeil is Professor of Design and Director of the UC Davis Design Museum at the University of California Davis. His research and teaching explore the exhibition space as a medium for the effective communication of objects, information and narratives. He has over 20 years of professional experience as a senior designer at the J. Paul Getty Museum and as a principal of his own design firm, developing over 180 exhibition and interpretive environments. McNeil has an MFA in exhibition design from University of the Arts, London and a BA in graphic design from Middlesex University. His award winning work is featured in multiple publications and he is a frequent writer and speaker both nationally and internationally on museum and design issues.

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A Message to Students and Parents

European countries are bursting at the seams with history and design. Join me on a journey through England and the Netherlands for an unparalleled insight into two countries famous for their design tradition as well as their design innovation.

We will stay in cities that are packed with historical firsts, great museums, stunning architecture and inventive design. Starting in the picturesque northern English city of York where I grew up, a city so steeped in history it’s the ultimate museum without walls, then traveling to global and trend-setting London where I completed my education at the prestigious St Martins College of Art and Design, and then worked professionally as a designer. The journey then takes us into mainland Europe to the beautiful city of Utrecht in the Netherlands, the perfect place to stay and use as a jumping off point for Amsterdam and other Dutch destinations. The Netherlands is my home away from home and I’ve visited many times. I’m drawn to the Dutch people’s hospitality, their worldliness, and their reverence for design. Design is in their bones and I know few other places in the world where it is so integrated into life and culture.

I’ve visited multiple parts of the world and if I had one word of advice it would be to travel. Exposure to new cultures, meeting new people, and being visually inspired is particularly relevant for those students interested in the creative fields. Through field trips, behind-the-scene museum visits, lectures and studio projects, this program examines the expanded role of the designer as an inventor and protagonist, a communicator of information, and a shaper of place.

I have been practicing design professionally for over 20 years, teaching design for over 10 years, and led a version of this program for 7 years. I bring a wealth of experience to bear on a study abroad adventure that is as rewarding academically as it is fun. I guarantee students will return changed people, and if I’ve done my job right, ready for a lifetime of further international exploration.