A few blog posts ago I highlighted an exhibit I worked on in 1999 inside the Georgia State Capitol building. That project, the Hall of Valor, was part of several projects that the firm I was working at at that time was engaged in. As the State Capitol building itself was being restored and it's historic museum cases being retrofitted for new exhibits a new facility across the street was being developed that was to serve as a cultural education facility and housed orientation exhibits for school groups visiting the Capitol. I got to work on all of the exhibits inside the new center and these were the first exhibits I worked on from concept through completion. I don't know if these exhibits are still in the space, the last few times I've been in the area I have not had time to check and the only photos I have are ones I've converted from film from my install trips.
Sometimes as an exhibit designer you get handed things written by interpretive people like "a Rube Goldberg type device demonstrating How a Bill Becomes a Law" and you just have to run with it! The rest of the exhibits in this facility were pretty straightforward but this electromechanical-interactive was not only a one-off for this center but this still remains a one-off for my career.
Exhibits like this require a certain level of content comprehension. After reviewing all the processes involved in how a bill becomes a law in the Georgia State Legislature I attempted to distill these processes into simple mechanical metaphors. The first sketch I did for this project may not look like much but it was a crucial first step:
The basic concept was a vertical pinball machine style display where visitors could follow a pinball (their bill) through a varying series of interactions that would ultimately result in it either becoming a law or being rejected. There were a number of different possible routes the ball could go which represented true processes. The next level of drawing graphically communicated the exhibit mechanics to the client.
With the concept approved in 2D the next step was to see how all these various components related to each other in 3D. The space available for all exhibits inside the CEC facility were limited to shallow display alcoves. This exhibit needed to have depth and layers to be "whimsical" but it also needed to make sure visitors didn't loose site of their bill. The machine was designed so that multiple visitors could have bills in various stages of processing at the same time. The 3D drawings and storyboards helped finalize the design and move it forward into production.
Unlike the other exhibits at the CEC I did not do in-depth design control drawings for the HaBBaL exhibit. Since there was already an exhibit fabricator involved in the project the production design was a very collaborative process with lots of dialogue and prototyping-the way it should be for one-of-a-kind exhibits! I did produce templates for parts and sketches for all sorts of little details like how to create the 3D bill characters.
The How a Bill Becomes a Law exhibit was one of the first exhibits installed at the CEC. I got to see a group of school kids on a field trip interacting with it when I was there for the installation of other exhibits. The HaBBaL exhibit is located on the first floor of the CEC along with two other exhibits. An introductory video wall and an exhibit on voting.
The introductory video wall is a graphic and video presentation located directly in front of the main entrance to the building. The graphic design and layout were developed by another designer and I was charged with developing the design control drawings.
The overall graphic design language and color palette of the above exhibit influenced the rest of the exhibits in the CEC. For the Voting exhibit I worked closely with the interpretive consultant to select content that met the interpretive goals and the graphic design language established by the Sr. Graphic Designer.
The second floor of the CEC had only one exhibit, the Capitol Visit graphic exhibit that was intended to be a launch pad for school groups as they prepared for the trip to the State Capitol building. The first floor exhibits presented what happened at the Capitol and how it happens, the second floor was about where it happened and who was doing it. The original interpretive direction focused on the three branches of government, three concepts were presented and the exhibit concept with 3D isometric cutaway drawings of the Capitol was the one the client like best.
The idea of having a map of the area and 3D representations of the buildings was expanded on. I developed a rough 3D model of the area of downtown Atlanta to illustrate the concept.
Once the design direction was established a professional illustrator was hired to do the final artwork:
The entire design and development process of these CEC exhibits ran from 1999 to early 2001. While I could have pulled each of these components out as their own post but felt like this one holds together as a group of exhibits and largely as one of the first complete projects I worked on from start to finish. The previous two 1999 posts were significant in their own rights. There were a few other minor projects I worked on in 1999 but I will fold them into some other posts with the exception the following images. As I mentioned before, as these CEC exhibits were being developed there was a much larger project happening across the street with the historic restoration of the State Capitol building and retrofitting of old museum cases. On it's own it was a very large project in scope; however, my role was limited to some case layouts and design control drawings.
The design direction for these cases had been streamlined to a system of panels that were determined by the interpretive focus of each case. Design development for most cases were simple layouts and artifact mounting details.
For some cases 3d renderings were done to help the client understand how the exhibit would be viewed from different angles.
The Native American artifacts case is one that varied a little from the system set forth for the other exhibits. This case was adjacent to a historic statue and not near the other cases and unlike the others that focused on specific events or movements, this case dealt with thousands of years of history. In contrast to the other cases which had many photos this case had very few illustrations, the layered strata effect was developed to give in some extra dimension and interpretive impact.
All in all I worked on about a dozen or so of some 40 something cases at the State Capitol Museum in Georgia. I could've made this a longer post of it's own but I had determined awhile ago that I would do three 1999 posts. It's been 10 months since the first one and I'm thrilled to finally be done with this latest one and moving on from 1999 portfolio pieces. It's been slow going at times processing these older assets. Although I haven't posted anything in a couple of months I've been working in the background laying the foundation for the next few posts. Hopefully I can pick up some momentum and post another project - soon!