Picture This


Matter Practice/MGMT. design

Practice Area


National Building Museum

Project Vision

Picture This: Windows on the American Home

The design challenge was to create an engaging, informational, and visually stimulating environment to display a range of inherently quotidian objects. The exhibition architecture used the concept of framing to display the artifacts in multiple free-standing units, creating transparent, layered viewpoints emphasized by the linear gallery space. The designed environment responded to and accentuated existing fenestration, and used the changing natural window light to enhance the exhibition display. An illuminated timeline ran continuously through the length of the gallery, displaying different window types and architectural styles. Exhibition graphics, signage, and identity extended the framing metaphor and worked with the scale of the museum to create a dramatic entrance. A lexicon of window shapes was used as a background for the exhibition didactics. Color was used to dematerialize the walls and floor and create a floating field for the objects displayed.

Project Details
This is a show about windows, a pretty tough subject to make vivid and interesting. When designing exhibitions about the history of applied arts and technology, it's always tempting to simulate the past in a literal, Disneyesque way. I admire the way the designers set the windows into an abstract wall structure that gives visitors a sense of how the windows would have functioned in space without creating a decorative environment around them. The graphics are beautifully integrated with this architectural display system. The typography is simple, distinctive, and dramatic, and the whole effect of the exhibition is to present a modern view on history.
Juror 1
Design Team

Sandra Wheeler, Matter Practice and Alicia Cheng, MGMT. design (Principals in Charge), J. Oliver Vollen, Alfred Zollinger, Karina Moya

Design Firm

Matter Practice/MGMT. design


Donald Albrecht (curator); Ben Rubin, EAR Studio, Inc. (film and video components); Sandy Isenstadt (historian); Chrysanthe B. Broikos (project manager)


Hank Griffith and Christopher Maclay, National Building Museum