Metropolitan Museum of Art

Period Rooms

New York City, NY | 2009

Small Design Firm was initially engaged to create a master plan for technology use in the American Wing. This led to the development of a number of project concepts: Period Room interactives, Elevator display, and the re-design of all printed signs and labels in the new wing.

The Period Rooms tour in the American Wing offers visitors to the Met a way to view decorative arts in their original context. These rooms are meticulously researched and reconstructed, but limitations in space did not allow for traditional printed signage . In response to the curatorial need for explanatory signage, Small Design Firm developed a railing-mounted touchscreen interactive to display a wealth of information about the rooms and the objects within them.

The screens present visitors with the provenance of the room, a brief history of the people who lived in it, curatorial information on the furnishings and objects in the room, and an explanation of how the room was moved from its original location and reconstructed within the museum. The interface is simple and can be used by visitors of all ages. Content is arranged as a horizontal scroll; sliding a finger across the screen slides this content forward and back. In addition, a three dimensional silhouette of each object in the room can be touched to bring up its object label. Users can zoom in on specific images, play videos, and flip certain cards to show more detailed content.

In the New York Times’ review of the renovated American Wing, they made special mention of these interactives:

“Also new, and well worth a try, are some of the best digital displays I’ve seen in any museum. With a brush of the finger on a touch screen you get information about the room’s original location, about the people who lived in it and about the history of its display at the Met, along with data about individual objects on view.”

From ‘Made in U.S.A.’ Shines After Makeover by Holland Cotter published May 22, 2009.

Wayshowing System

New York City, NY | 2009

Small Design Firm was initially engaged to create a master plan for technology use in the American Wing. This led to the development of a number of project concepts: Period Room interactives, Elevator display, and the re-design of all printed signs and labels in the new wing.

Small Design Firm led the design and implementation of a comprehensive wayshowing system for the recently renovated American Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This system defines the organization of signage in the wing at all scales and gives the entire wing a consistent way of displaying information to the visitor. A single set of layout standards and design rules apply to both printed labels and digital and interactive screens. This system is flexible enough to handle a wide variety of curatorial content. The signs are divided into three primary categories: object labels, overview panels, and navigational signs. Steel or aluminum channels accept printed labels that can be easily replaced. The seamless transition between printed and digital signage helps to unify content within the wing and eliminates typical barriers between old and new technologies.

Luce Center

New York City, NY | 2012

The Henry R. Luce Center in the Metropolitan Museum’s American Wing is a dense, confusing and remarkable study collection of over 8,000 objects that would otherwise be in hidden storage. Small Design Firm developed a master plan for the use of technology in the American Wing anchored in the Luce Center, but connected to every part of the wing. Encompassing redesigned labels, a complete wayfinding system, and interactive Period Room Labels throughout the galleries, this rational presentation of information enhances the experience of the collection while maintaining the primacy of the works themselves.

The Luce Center is made accessible through three specific interventions. Upon your approach to the space from the new elevator, a digitally produced wallpaper speaks the expanse of the collection, presenting a visual catalog of all 15,000 objects that comprise the American Wing’s collection, arranged in the order of their acquisition. Comfortable seating at the Luce Center Portals invites visitors to explore this massive collection through curated essays and a dynamic visualization of the collection that can be interactively sorted, classified, filtered and arranged. Found works are explicated through digital labels, including maps, links to related works, and supplemental photography. Lastly, smaller screens throughout the Luce Center provide simplified access to compact digital labels that are never more than a few steps away from the works they describe.