Petra: Lost City of Stone


American Museum of Natural History

Practice Area


American Museum of Natural History

Project Vision

This is the most comprehensive exhibition ever presented on the ancient city of Petra, located in modern-day Jordan. It features approximately 200 artifacts, including architectural fragments and sculptures, ceramics, and decorative stuccowork. The challenge for this show was to evoke a powerful site without literally recreating it.

Graphics and architecture work together to create an environment that responds to the scale of the site while giving the objects center stage. A rectilinear modernism prevails, inspired by the rigorous structure underlying the buildings of Petra. The graphics evoke key elements of the site – subtle color, massive scale, layers and striations of rock. Echoing the city’s monumental columns, 10-foot pylons act as signposts for each section and orient visitors in the space. Layered color schemes and a strong grid help visitors navigate multiple layers of information on wall and label graphics and the typographic hierarchy allows for a quick read of the extensive text.

Project Details
The combination of architectural elements, color palette, and large scale installation graphics serve to evoke a strong sense of place and successfully position the display of artifacts. Use of color, text hierarchy and illustrative examples support the clear delivery of interpretive stories.
Juror 1
Design Team

David Harvey and Melissa Posen (Principals in Charge), Tim Nissen, Stephanie Reyer, Geralyn Abinader, Dina Langis, Alan Walker, Steve Warsavage, Tim Martin, Catharine Weese, Caroline Seitz, Pei Hsieh, Hartmut Jordan, Rachel Griffin, Karen de Seve, JoAnn Gutin, Sarah Galloway, Molly Lenore, Dee Dixon, Michael Cosaboom, Scott Harris, Mindy Weisberger, Christopher Tague, Lee Patrick, Tiya Gordon

Design Firm

American Museum of Natural History


Art Guild, Inc. (exhibit architecture), Green Branch Communications/Andres Imaging (graphics)