The renovated Rainis museum “Tadenava”, is the place where famous Latvian writer, Rainis, spent the first three years of his life. The museum is located 200 km away from the Latvian capital Riga, in a historic building built in the 1860s.
The premise of the exhibition is that childhood environments impact personality development and in that respect, “Tadenava” is a childhood museum and the design team treated it as such. The public is invited to hear, see and feel the environment that formed Rainis’ personality.
The main objective for Design Studio H2E was to create a fully engaging and memorable adventure in the world of childhood discoveries. The challenge that followed was how to design an exhibition that fosters curiosity and seeks to engage both adults and a younger generation born with digital technologies.
Design Studio H2E came to the underlying concept of the exhibition design—a non-digital exhibition that contrasts with the digitalization of the century. Their vision for the exhibition was to develop creativity by leaving the space to visitor’s own imagination with analog and easy-to-grasp interactions that are meaningful for children and their parents.
Every game in the exhibition references Rainis’s life or literary heritage. The games intersect each other and the environment, gradually creating a more complete emotional, intellectual and special experience.
The exhibition is designed to be 100% tactile, provoking childlike curiosity even in adults. At the start, each visitor spins a big wooden wheel—the biography of Rainis on a 3-D map and receives a small wooden ball, noticing the word “sun” in forest made of wooden balls that are hung in ropes. The ball is a metaphor for the sun, as Tadenava was the land of the sun for Rainis.
The ball becomes the thread binding the whole exhibition, the visitor and the young Rainis. For example, a visitor puts the ball in a cradle, then rocks the cradle, which forms a sound. The ball initiates action and fosters curiosity.
Visitor swings on a wooden horse and plays a strategy game. There is also a table with math problems and holes. When a ball is thrown into a specific hole, it makes a tapping sound and visitors hear the result of mathematical action.
A cohesive wayfinding system guides visitors throughout the museum’s campus. Polished aluminium creates contrast with the time-affected look of the buildings.
The museum, one of very few tourist attractions in the region, has become a resource for preserving and developing the cultural heritage of the region. The museum opened to public on July 2016 to considerable crowds, quintupling the annual visitation numbers for the area.
Holgers Elers (lead designer), Inguna Elere (lead designer, graphic design), Dagnija Balode (project manager), Laura Lorence (graphic designer), Girts Arajs (3-D designer), Martins Vitols (3-D designer), Charly Bloedel (graphic designer, wayfinding), Anete Liepa (layout designer)
"A charming and simply resolved exhibit that captures the spirit of childhood discovery. It's refreshing to see that the creators resisted the temptation to use digital technology in the story telling. The outcome is a beautiful tactile analog experience that appears to be more immersive and engaging."
"Wooden toys just feel better than plastic, and this exhibit feels better for having not a single screen in sight. The interactives are super approachable and inviting to touch… the exhibit projects a very human quality that simply feels good."