Make sure the first step is the right one for your Museum

Make sure the first step is the right one for your Museum

When beginning the design process for your museum or exhibit, make sure your first step is the right one.

Even with all of the information out there, people with experience still believe they can take short cuts to begin their project.  The fact is that a properly thought out museum or exhibit requires both architects and exhibit designers to be on board. 

Each of these bring a very different set of expertise and information to the table that is significant and important to you the owner, as you begin the process.

An architect will deal with form, function, life safety and systems.

An Exhibit designer will deal with – the story.  After all that is the reason you are building the museum.

To begin the process without your exhibit designer chosen will only lead to a compromised outcome.  The architect cannot possibly anticipate the spatial quality and size, or system infrastructure, that will be required by the designers.  More importantly there is a real chance that your budget will become skewed toward the building and away from the story.

Conversely, the exhibit designers will not address the building systems, image or life safety issues.  These can only be developed properly by the Architect.

 The National World War II Museum in New Orleans is a great example of when this process worked at its best, as described by the design team at last year’s Southeastern Museum Conference in New Orleans. 

 The Architects, Voorsanger Mathes, LLC and Exhibit Designer, Gallagher and Associates, together determined the overall masterplan for the project, how exhibit spaces would be organized, across the site.  The Architects established the design esthetic and structure for the buildings, while the exhibit designers developed the story and gallery designs.  As a result, they were able to respond to each other.  For example, when a higher volume space was needed in the exhibit portraying the Battle of the Bulge for full scale trees, the architects were able to respond accordingly with the structure.

 The result is one of the best museums ranked in the world. 

Every client should expect no less cooperation or result from their designers and architects.

 Mark Keen is an owner representative, specializing in exhibit projects. 

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