Snap-on Museum Experience

Merit Award 2015

With its 100-year anniversary approaching, iconic toolmaker Snap-on wanted to celebrate its success with the people who made it possible: its employees and its loyal and passionate customer base. And of course to stay on-brand, Snap-on needed the right tool for the job.

Snap-on worked with Kahler Slater (Milwaukee) to create the Snap-on Museum, a new experience in the company’s Kenosha, Wisc., headquarters. The 4,350-square-foot space doubles as a corporate museum and special-event dining room.

Kahler Slater’s primary challenge was devising a way to display hundreds of artifacts—from the company’s iconic interchangeable socket and wrench sets to a Model-T—in a cohesive way. They achieved the goal by keeping it simple, with a minimal color palette including a black backdrop and impactful use of the company’s signature red.

The design team and fabricator Xibitz created a shop feel with an inset, illuminated cabinet that runs 150 feet through the length of the museum, organizing content in a linear fashion. Black metal peg-board allows artifacts to be moved and changed easily. On the other side of the space, a custom rail system allows additional storylines. The multi-functioning rails allow graphics to be inserted in the rails, magnetic graphics to adhere to the face, and heavy 3D elements to lock into the rails.

In keeping with the company’s famous “5 do the work of 50” selling line, the space is also multifunctional, also serving as a unique dining experience for special company events. Snap-on fabricated custom mobile toolboxes that display and store artifacts—and can be wheeled away so that tables can be set for a fine dining experience. 

The result is an aesthetic that communicates the high-performance methodology behind the company’s products and brings the brand to life for employees, customers, franchisees, and the local community.

Jury Comments: 

“Rock-solid branding: everything about this exhibition space feels like Snap-on. Hundreds of stories and artifacts are organized so cleanly that they work equally well as either focal point or backdrop in this space that serves as both museum and dining hall.”

“Restraint and discipline combined with a strong color palette create an intelligent and cohesive presentation of a huge amount of content. The 150-foot-long illuminated timeline exposes visitors to the entire company’s history in a glance. At the same time, the carefully curated presentation of objects invites intimate engagement.”

Design Firm: 

Kahler Slater

Client: 

Snap-on

Location City: 

Kenosha

Project Area: 

4,350 sq ft

Open Date: 

August 2014

Photo Credits: 

Peter McCullough

Design Team: 

Tony LaPorte (design director/manager); Jason Gamm, Ryan Tretow (designers); Amber McCracken (interior architect); Darin Frerichs (project architect)

Consultants: 

N/A

Fabricators: 

Xibitz (exhibit fabrication), Riley Construction (general contractor), Creative Technology (primary digital/tech integrator), Samsung (digital displays), Medex (non-glare glass, paint, graphic film, direct printing), Crestron (controls), JBL (audio)

Related Links: 

New Member Offer

Click to access the SEGD 2018 nenver been a member $185 sign up offer

Upcoming SEGD Events

Join us at the 2018 SEGD Wayfinding and Placemaking event in Los Angeles
2018 SEGD Exhibition and Experience event in Washington DC 23-24 August
2018 SEGD Xlab