The Museum of Danish America, located in Elk Horn, Iowa, is dedicated to the preservation of Danish immigrant heritage in the United States. Housed in a beautiful timber-framed building reminiscent of traditional Danish architecture, the museum provides a glimpse into Danish-American culture and traditions through traveling exhibitions and permanent displays. We recently had the pleasure of partnering with this long-time Oxide client on a new project.
The museum was in the middle of shuffling their layout and needed help designing and laying out their new core exhibit. The exhibit “Danish Roots, American Dreams” is the museum’s largest exhibit, spanning two floors and two locations. Beginning just off the entrance, the exhibition acts as an introduction to the Danish immigrant and to the variety of rotating exhibits in other areas of the museum.
This was a big job that included everything from the physical panel designs to interior design and wall layouts. It included five different areas each looking at different aspects of Danish immigrant life and history. Stories, artifacts, and maps all included from the museum’s permanent collection are incorporated throughout.
We came up with simple template designs for the panels and various title cards, notations, and texts that show up throughout the exhibit. These templates make it easy for the museum to update or replace any of the pieces in the exhibit.
Working on such a large project long-distance — Elk Horn is about an hour away — certainly made this a bit more challenging. Simple things like double-checking a measurement — or grabbing one you forgot — are a little harder to do. Building out accurately scaled mock-ups and floor plans was a must and made things like laying out the 90-foot historic timeline much easier to manage.
As an added bonus, we also had the opportunity to rethink the interior wayfinding signage throughout the museum. With the changes happening inside, the museum wanted some permanent signage designed as well. Something as simple as consistent signage can pull a place together and make it feel cohesive. We designed a system with a set of signs that feel like a part of the museum.
Getting to influence the interior of any space and the way people interact with it is always fun. We’ve said this before, but the Museum of Danish America is definitely worth the visit and is only a short(ish) trip away. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to stop and check out the new core exhibit!