Stephanie Bohl’s senior thesis project at Drexel University was an exhibit environment for a traveling exhibit space. Her chosen topic was World War II, focusing on the 3rd Marine Division in the Pacific War. Her intent was to create an environment that informed visitors of the realities of war and established a sense of personal connection with the individual soldiers.
Bohl’s exhibit solution was organized to reflect both a personal view and a broad view of the war. It begins with an introductory panel about the 3rd Marine Division, followed by an angled wall that introduces the first portion of the exhibit, dedicated to the three battles fought by the division. The battles are relayed on the inner panels, with corresponding photographs and facts on the outer walls.
The second section addresses a broad view of the war, depicting how previous battles, divisions, and solders impacted the outcome. As before, explanatory panels are in the center, with corresponding photographs and facts on the outer walls. An angled memorial wall acts as a transition space and unifies the two exhibit sections.
Bohl shaped the inner space to reflect the rocky terrain on which the war’s battles were fought. Inner panels increase in height to recall the famous “raising the flag” photo on Iwo Jima, the final battle fought by the 3rd Marine Division. Inner panels narrate the battles through individual storytelling and artifacts including letters and soldiers’ belongings.
Bohl created a clear information hierarchy using typography in various sizes and fonts. Around the perimeter on the outer walls, she created a gallery featuring photos of the 3rd Marine Division in everyday life and war, accompanied by a timeline of the battles and casualties. She kept the outer walls simple and clean to give visitors a resting place and to allow them to solely focus on the photographs. The space between the interior panels is intentionally tight, simulating the trenches and reminding visitors of soldiers’ dependency on one another. While the heights of photos on the outer walls and titles on the inner panels are inherent wayfinding guides, Bohl also used angled walls, large photos, and the ascending height of the inner panels to guide visitors through the space.
Stephanie Bohl, Drexel University
Jody Graff (instructor)