The Delight of Designing for Museums

CA at HCD showI am in Houston this week at the amazing annual expo of the American Association of Museums. Among the wealth of technical exhibits -- such as lighting, display hardware and catalog printing -- there are fascinating booths sponsored by companies that create replicas of our primitive ancestors, life-sized dinosaur skeletons and exotic mammals. What an eyeful!

We have done quite a bit of Art Glass and Donor Recognition for museums in our 35-plus years in the "gratitude business," as I call it. These projects have been some of my favorites, and I thought you'd enjoy seeing just a few. (The links will take you to our website, where you'll find more photos and detailed descriptions of each project.)

Clay Performing Arts with onlooker
A striking carved and etched dancer (from an original image by famed photographer Lois Greenfield) glows in changing day-to-night LED colors at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston, WV. We created a combination Donor Recognition-Art Glass mural in the theater lobby. The design also features a "diamond necklace" of fractals trailing across the crystal panels -- a visual reference to the children’s discovery museum attached to the theater. I'm proud to say that this installation was the winner of a Creativity 35 Award of Distinction!


We also used dramatic photography in this National Baseball Hall of Fame Tribute to the great Buck O’Neil, a player, scout and coach who paved the way for African-Americans in major league baseball. O’Neil was known as a consummate gentleman both on and off the field. It was a special treat to select vintage photos of him -- and of the ballpark he called home -- and render them in etched crystal. We use a proprietary technique to develop and convert photographs into a fine DPI (dot per inch) etchable matrix that we then use to create permanent monument-style, highly readable and realistic 3-D images and portraits.

St. joseph with viewer horizontal
At St. Joseph Medical Center in Baltimore, we created a Heritage Wall that uses images and artifacts from the hospital's long history to create a permanent lobby exhibit of seven niches of carved and etched crystal. The panels not only celebrate the founding and growth of the hospital, they thank the institution's donors while serving as powerful branding and identity statements in the competitive Baltimore healthcare market.

Museum of Fine Arts

At the Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg, FL, we were asked to create a Donor Recognition wall to serve as an eye-catching piece of art in their lobby. Because the museum is known for its dramatic collection of Steuben glass, we aimed to create an Art Glass piece that showed off the elegance and timelessness of deep V-cut carving in crystal.

The crystal panels are edge-lit by strips of LEDs hidden in custom brackets at top and bottom. Crystal acts like a fiber optic, so when light is directed at the edge of a panel, it travels through the glass, highlighting the carving and making its message visible from quite a distance.

Designing for museums is a fascinating process. It gives us the chance to show our unique ability to create stunningly beautiful Art Glass that also serves practical purposes by providing information, identity statements and Donor Recognition.

If you happen to be in the Houston area, MuseumExpo 2011 runs through the 25th. I hope you'll stop by booth 1604 and say hi! 

Christina sig cropped