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Now open to the public Ford House has a brand new 40,000 square foot Visitor Center. The new facility accompanies the 1920s historic mansion and other buildings on the 87-acre estate. Full-service experience design agency, Luci Creative, led the interpretive planning and exhibit design for the project, in partnership with Richard Lewis Media Group. Other project partners and contributors included architect SmithGroup, general contractor Frank Rewold and Son Inc., custom fabricator Ravenswood Studio, Inc., and A/V specialist Creative Technology.
The new visitor center includes 6,500 square feet of interactive exhibits and displays. The permanent exhibits introduce families, school groups, and tourists to Eleanor and Edsel Ford’s life, legacy, and love of art. Patrons are invited into the Ford’s private life through a living room-inspired gallery featuring memories of the family at the property. The gallery also includes a deep dive into the creative process and influences that went into the design of the house by architect Albert Kahn, and the planning and design of the gardens by Jens Jensen.
Luci Creative and the Ford House team also integrated interpretation throughout the estate and Visitors Center, celebrating the intersection of science and design. Featured stories included sustainable design practices that were adopted early in the development of the property and continued into the planning and design of the new buildings today.
“We knew the Visitor Center could never replace the authentic experience of touring the house and gardens,” said AJ Goehle, CEO of Luci Creative. “Instead, it is a new way to inspire visitors with the warm family life Eleanor and Edsel led at Gaukler Pointe through their letters, home movies, and stories from their children. The design of the exhibits is inspired by the detailed architecture and craftsmanship of the main house, serving as a contemporary extension of Eleanor and Edsel’s home.”
Visitors to the new facility will experience the unguarded side of the loving couple and their children through a media collage of home video clips, a digital Ford family scrap book, and a seemingly magical dimensional model.
“The family archives at Ford House are a treasure,” noted Richard Lewis, Principal of Richard Lewis Media Group. “We had an incredible opportunity to create layered interactive experiences that combine historic photography, oral histories, and family memories to bring the legacy of the Ford family to life.”
A changing exhibit space provides the Visitor Center with the ability to host temporary and traveling exhibits. This space currently houses “Driven by Design,” also designed by Luci Creative and Richard Lewis Media Group. This exhibition features stories behind the design and creation of three extremely rare Ford vehicles: the world’s only 1939 Lincoln Continental prototype, the 1932 Ford Model 18 Speedster, and a 1934 Ford Model 40 Special Speedster.
“It was Eleanor Ford’s desire to preserve the estate and open it to the public,” Ford House President and CEO Mark Heppner said. “The Visitor Center gives us the opportunity to show how we continue that legacy today, through conservation at the estate, our sustainability and environmental efforts, our educational programming, and support of the local Michigan community.”
Patrons can enter the visitor center and exhibits for free, and are not required to purchase a tour of the house to do so. There is a $5 fee to stroll the grounds. To book tours of the estate, please visit fordhouse.org.
View more photos from this project at Luci Creative.
About Luci Creative:
Luci Creative is a full-service design studio, empowering organizations to realize their goals through immersive experiences and exhibits. We design and build unique spaces of all scales, bringing together the best expert partners to realize the project, and manage every step of the creative process for our clients along the way. Luci’s team of designers tailor a collaborative approach to every project, generating fresh experiences that feel engaging, meaningful, and memorable. Your story. Your mission. Your legacy. Luci Creative makes it real. For more information, please visit lucicreative.com.
About Richard Lewis Media Group:
The Richard Lewis Media Group (RLMG) is recognized as a world leader in the design and production of media programs for museums and visitor centers. The company was founded by Richard Lewis, who has served as Principal for more than 250 media projects with a budgeted value of more than $100 million. RLMG’s experience, creativity, and project management skills have made the company a valuable partner and collaborator for many of North America’s leading museums, architects, and exhibition design firms. For more information, please visit rlmg.com.
About Ravenswood Studio Inc:
Ravenswood Studio is a custom fabrication company driven by passionate artisans who take pride in every aspect of each project. We build exhibits for museums, cultural institutions, brands, and corporations, as well as sets and scenery for theater, television, and film. Celebrating over 30 years as one of the nation’s most talented builders, we fabricate projects of all scales and complexities. We use state-of-the-art fabrication technologies and materials to produce award-winning projects that set our clients apart time and time again. For more information, please visit ravenswoodstudio.com.
About Ford House:
Ford House tells the story of the home life of a prominent American family. The Ford House experience is an authentic witness to the past that inspires, educates and engages visitors through exploration of its unique connections to art, design, history and the environment, while celebrating family traditions and community relationships. For information on visiting Ford House and estate grounds, please visit fordhouse.org.
Photo Credit: Luci Creative & Ford House.