The beloved Louisiana Children's Museum was housed for 30 years in the Warehouse District of New Orleans before expanding to a stunning new 8.5-acre site in City Park. Our part of the project encompassed a re-brand as well as signage design, interpretation, environmental graphics and donor recognition throughout the new indoor/outdoor site.
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 planning. We embraced this approach for the brand, wayfinding and interpretation design. We incorporated 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 our team first toured the original museum we visited their creative workshop space for kids, and were energized by the incredible art, drawing and sculpture on the walls. From the museum staff we 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 our three years of work on this project, our team collaborated closely with the museum to create an environment that inspires both children and adults. One of our 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.
Challenge / Design Problem: The original Louisiana Children's Museum was a beloved brand and a local institution. It was going to be challenging to change the visual identity and also embrace a lagoon-side site far from the original location in the Warehouse District.
On the fabrication front, everything needed to be very hard-wearing to withstand heat, sun, humidity and of course the small hands of thousands of child visitors.
Solution of Design Challenge: The new brand, featuring children's illustrations, fresh typography and an updated color palette to complement the new park setting, was universally embraced.
The wayfinding and donor recognition, featuring children's drawings, let the work of the child come through while also serving important functions throughout the space.
Scope of Project: +Exterior building name signage +Exterior wayfinding and building signage +Interior wayfinding and building signage +Design of flexible programming displays +Donor Recognition +Interior Environmental graphics +Landscape Interpretation +Stairway mural, entry quotes +Grandparent quotes installation +Incidental signage +New Identity/logo +Brand guidelines and collateral +Newsletter design
Project Success: Throughout our three years of work on this project, our team collaborated closely with the museum to create an environment that inspires both children and adults. One of our 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. We look forward to this site serving multiple generations for many years to come.
-Nomination for USA Today's 10 Best Awards for New Museum, and Best New Children's Museum
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
- 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: many families come several times every week
- (From the Director): "A family visiting from DC today was filled with wonder about the children whose art is incorporated into our exhibit panels and on the bathroom walls. The 10 year old asked over and over about how we secured the art from kids. Her mom works for the EPA and said she generated a LONG list of ways to follow up and make connections for us."
- (From the Director): "Lots of vocabulary words are being used to describe this place, but there are two that surface with regularity. "Magic" and "Inspiring" are heard over and over, from people of all ages – about so many different aspects of what you have designed. It is such a tremendous gift to this city, and filled with joyous and joy- full memories of years of working together. Those two words can quite easily be used to describe the amazing opportunity of working with this super talented, dream team. Allison and I always felt so inspired to be in the midst of many magical moments with you. What a journey! Thank you so very, very much!"
"The numbers as a whole are amazing. Shrink down the numbers to the nine days of Thanksgiving week (the Saturday before to the Sunday after) and an amazing story unfolds. All together over those nine days we welcomed more than 10,000 guests, and we all felt the museum was bursting with love (several staff members said "people were so sweet that week.") – even though we had over 1,800 guests two different days. The same "demand" also unfolded over the Christmas week, with nearly 10,000 people visiting in a seven-day period. I've just compared the numbers to those same days from 2018 and found a ridiculous 3-4 times jump!"