Americans

Agency
Category
Client
  • National Museum of the American Indian

This exhibition deconstructs conflicts and decisions involving Native peoples at specific historic moments and portrays the ubiquity of Indians in our national identity despite the fact they now comprise only 1% of the U.S. population. “Who really won the Battle of Little Bighorn? It’s complicated,” invites visitors to view the battle from two points of view—the first tells the events through hand-drawn art on muslin and Lakota regalia, while the second viewpoint comes from newsprint and Wild West show ephemera.

A durable installation would need to last a minimum of 10 years, withstanding not only average wear and tear, but also the fading of color imagery and the translucent reflective, matte and highly textured surfaces with digital printing.

The Challenge

The main gallery could have become completely overwhelmed with artifacts and information, defeating the main curatorial goal of helping visitors make personal connections with the exhibition. The gallery is irregularly shaped and populated by a series of concrete columns.

Photo Credit: Thomas Loof

Close up of seating, films, and armature

Photo Credit: Thomas Loof

Wall armature and entrances into historical galleries

Photo Credit: Thomas Loof

Wall Armature detail

Design & Execution

Comprised of 32 sections that were assembled quickly on site, the armature in the central hall incorporates lighting, data and security for over 200 elements including fine art, historical objects, props and backlit graphics panels.

The team built sample sections at full size to study the integration and test various technologies. In particular, the curving sections had to be welded precisely to integrate with standard tubular steel sections.

There are no standard stud walls; rather, a close collaborated with the fabricators produced a building technique that constructed plywood backup with MDF cabinetry that included the display boxes. This method allowed hundreds of electric feeds and data cords to feed up to the top of the walls where they aggregate into sections and hook to dimmer panels.

To guide visitors through the “Indians Everywhere” immersive gallery, intuitive touchscreens reveal the history and significance of items ranging from Indian-themed mascots to missiles. A user-friendly interface greets visitors with a scrollable grid of digital images corresponding to the physical items in the gallery. The entire interface uses the same graphic motif as found elsewhere in the exhibition giving visual coherence to the spatial design as a whole.

Located on the floor of the exhibition hall at ADA compliant tables, decoders are designed to accommodate two single users at once and are oriented to maximize views of the panoramic exhibition. Built as a Chrome Kiosk application, the decoders are programmed in React and HTML5 and meet WCAG 2.0 web- accessibility guidelines.

Photo Credit: Thomas Loof

Detail of ”Battle of Little Big Horn” gallery

Photo Credit: Thomas Loof

Detail of ”Battle of Little Big Horn” gallery

Photo Credit: Thomas Loof

Detail of ”Trail of Tears” gallery

Photo Credit: Thomas Loof

”Detail of Battle of Little Big Horn” gallery with smart tables

Slideshow

Americans

”Indians Everywhere”

Close up of seating, films, and armature

Wall armature and entrances into historical galleries

Wall Armature detail

Detail of ”Battle of Little Big Horn” gallery

Detail of ”Battle of Little Big Horn” gallery

Detail of ”Trail of Tears” gallery

”Detail of Battle of Little Big Horn” gallery with smart tables