Skip to content

FDR Library and Museum, part 4: the Great Depression

25 Jun 2013


The first gallery you enter sets the stage for FDR’s presidency: the Great Depression. The focal point here is the neon-illuminated “FEAR” wall. Text is silkscreened onto the glass panels and rear-illuminated with LED pads. The red colorization comes from the custom “UMEMPLOYED” neon letters; the mural image in the back is black and white.


The FEAR letters are applied to the rear of the glass. I wanted them to be translucent—to allow the mural image to show through and create depth—and as richly black as possible. The fabricators, Explus, provided a variety of production samples to try to achieve the effect I was after. Printing the letters on a transparent film and applying it to the glass, in particular, was unacceptable as I wanted a uniform transparency (no streaks, no dots). In the end they used Rosco gel sheets.

They created a self-adhesive vinyl by applying OptiClear to the face of the gel sheet (Rosco Cinegel Neutral Density N.9 Gel Extra Wide) then die cutting it. I was happy, but the fabricators had some difficulty with cutting and applying the gel sheets. Their graphics manager told me that if they were to do something like this again they’d use a standard window tint that has the application adhesive already on it. But I do love how that gel turned out!

The sample:


The wall opposite the FEAR wall:


The background mural is printed on DreamScape, as I mentioned in a previous post. Most of the murals in this museum were applied to backers, framed, and cleat-hung to the wall, but this particular one was applied directly to the wall and its edges captured with flat aluminum strips. I don’t remember why we did this, but I’m certain there was a reason….

The framed graphics are digital prints with an overlaminate, mounted to sign blank. They are applied onsite to an MDF backer panel and aluminum frame. (The backer and frame are screwed to the exhibit wall; the graphic is applied with VHB tape.) Explus welded the frames’ corners before painting them, and that made a huge difference in the appearance of them. They looked more finished and high-quality.


FDRL Library and Museum, part 3: almost done!

24 Jun 2013

I’m back in Hyde Park—installation continues! The exhibit is quickly coming together as the opening nears. Most of the graphics are hung, dimensional letters have been pinned (there are a ton throughout the museum—I went a little dimensional-letter-happy), and the interactives are being field-tested. I think it all is looking great.

Some photos of the New Deal gallery:





And a few artifact cases:




(Papier-mâché sphinx!)

The World War II timeline is nearly complete (two weeks ago there wasn’t much besides the skeleton hung):



Oh and I may have snuck into some New York Times photos. The critic and photographer were there, I was there…who’s to say. We’ll see.

FDR Library and Museum, part 2: installation continues

16 Jun 2013

I was onsite at the FDR Library this past week and was able to take some photos of the exhibit installation. It’s exciting to see the various elements go up. The exhibits are dense and layered—it’s a big story to tell in a relatively small space. The exhibits are in the original [renovated] library conceived by Roosevelt himself so we were restricted to the existing spaces while designing new exhibits.



Most of the graphics still have a protective layer and ID label on them. In other places there are backers awaiting graphics, brown paper-wrapped graphics sitting on the floor, and assorted construction detritus. But bit-by-bit it’s going up! And we all know that everything happens in the last week before opening anyway. ;)



Below, left: These graphics will be installed into the WWII timeline in the photo above (on the right). They’re printed on Laserchrome, which I mentioned in my previous post.


I also mentioned the DreamScape wallcovering; below is a shot of some installed murals. I think they’re looking good. Once the text panels, dimensional titles, reader rails, etc. go up—it will look great. More, soon!


FDR Library and Museum, under construction and opening soon, part 1

03 Jun 2013

For the past couple of years I’ve been working on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, in Hyde Park, New York and—holy cow—the public opening is less than a month away. With time dwindling, I decided to finally share some process photos: production samples, shop visits, and installation.

The library has been posting photos of the ongoing installation on their tumblr. The photo below comes from there; I grabbed it to highlight the graphic in the background. There are four of these structures throughout the museum, one for each of FDR’s elections. The one below is awaiting its dimensional title and stars, but still should give you a sense of how it will look when it’s complete.


The graphic is silkscreened onto a sheet of Acrylite P-95 with white vinyl film adhered to its second surface. Silkscreening on P-95 creates a subtle shadow and gives depth to the text. At certain angles the text looks dimensional. Here’s a photo of the sample provided by the fabricator (with one of the aforementioned dimensional stars):



Below, the main story panels used in the World War II gallery of the museum, which I am especially happy with:


They’re built from 5/8″ clear acrylic, first painted on the front surface with regular old Ben Moore paint, save for a “window” left free of paint. The text is printed onto the painted acrylic surface, and then the photo—a Laserchrome metallic print—is adhered to the second surface of the acrylic, within the window area.


The photo above gives you a sense of the depth and the jewel box effect created by layering the photo behind the acrylic.

Here’s a peek at the backside of the pane. The aluminum angle frames are painted with Matthews acrylic polyurethane paint:



For wall murals I spec’ed DreamScape wallcoverings in various finishes. Here’s another photo from the FDR blog, showing installed murals (again, sans dimensional titles, and sans a scaffolding structure that will be located in front):


I’m pleased with the crisp image quality, especially on the rough textures, such as “Plaster”:


And below, the “Mystical” finish:


More coming soon!

Playtime: Century of the Child at MoMA

19 Aug 2012

Above: the Tripp Trapp chair.

I stopped in on Century of the Child, “an exploration and celebration of modern design for children in the 20th century,” at the Museum of Modern Art in NY. It was fascinating and delightful, and brought back some memories.

For further reading definitely check out the exhibition website, the blog, and the tumblr.

The News 08.16.12

16 Aug 2012

Assorted exhibit design-related web finds:


The Google Web Lab at the Science Museum in London

Designing for Accessibility: MoMA’s Material Lab

Harvard Medical School’s “Training the Eye” course

SEGD is hosting a symposium, “The Art of Collaboration,” in Raleigh October 4–5

The last day to see the Terracotta Warriors in North America is August 26 at Times Square.

The National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia now offers free admission for their first floor gallery.

Why the Museum of Broken Relationships is so great (and it’s not just the name)

100 Toys that Define Our Childhood—vote for your favorites for a new exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Voting ends tomorrow, August 17.

Places that Work: U.S. Botanic Gardens

“Spiders Alive!’ at the American Museum of Natural History (NY Times review)

Are some fonts more believable than others?

How to explain why typography matters

Meanwhile, I’ve been pinning obsessively over on Pinterest:

Pinterest allows you to “pin” to “boards” anything that catches your fancy on the internet. My boards are mostly design-related, such as “exhibits,” “engagement,” “interiors,” “exteriors,” “materials,” etc. It’s basically a place to collect found inspiration. Fun.

Game on: The Art of Video Games

15 Aug 2012

About a month ago I visited The Art of Video Games at the Smithsonian American Art Museum with my friend Diana. Sorry in advance for my [terrible!] phone photos.

It’s gotten quite a bit of press already that I’m afraid I don’t have much of interest to add to (here is a thoughtful review), but in a nutshell: it covers the past 40 years of video game art. The exhibit includes interviews of game designers and developers, conceptual art, video displays of 80 games (voted on by the public), and playable games (five, for the five eras of game technology).

[I would have loved to play some Super Mario Brothers, but the line was 10 kids deep so I chose to move on….]

Historic game consoles were also on display. (ugh, the games I played with as a kid are now “historic.”) We were interested to learn about the industrial design and engineering of the actual consoles, but that was not covered in this exhibit. Perhaps in a follow-up?

The designers describe their process and the materials and production techniques used in this blog post. There is also an upcoming gallery talk, “Building ‘The Art of Video Games'” on August 21. For those of you not in the D.C. area, the exhibit travels beginning late October.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers