Period Rooms

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.