The visitor experience planning team applied an unorthodox approach when developing the museum’s master plan, using a Reggio Emilia-inspired process to engage very young children in the master plan.
The designers embraced this approach for the brand, wayfinding, and interpretation design, incorporating authentic children’s drawings—created at the Museum—in the new identity and all throughout the new site. (Each drawing is credited to the budding child artist.)
When the team first toured the original museum, they visited their creative workshop space for kids and were energized by the incredible art, drawing, and sculpture on the walls.
From the museum staff, they learned how important it is for kids’ learning and self-esteem to not just provide them with opportunities to draw, paint, and create, but also to display that work and really celebrate it.
Throughout three years of work on this project, the team collaborated closely with the museum to create an environment that inspires both children and adults.
Design + Execution
One of their favorite pieces is the installation of quotes from grandparents describing their hopes and dreams for the children of New Orleans.
Even better was learning from the staff that many kids now ask for photos of the wall, as they like what they read and want to remember the words.
The Museum as a whole has been incredibly successful, going from strength to strength from its opening on Labor Day Weekend 2019; membership has quadrupled and, in the first 100 days alone, the Museum welcomed 60,000 guests from 44 different states. It has become a “Third Place” in New Orleans as many families come several times a week.
“Lots of vocabulary words are being used to describe this place,” says the Museum Director, “but there are two that surface with regularity: magic and inspiring.”
Kristine Matthews (principal design)
Cassie Kingler (project lead design, Phase 1; photography)
Nicole Fischetti (project lead design, Phase 2)
Jami Halse (project management, Phase 1)
Amy McHorse (project management, Phase 2)
Sara Essex Bradley (photography)