Page C3.1 . 28 March 2001                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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    To Design an Enduring Museum

    by Alice Parman

    When the doors open at the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., people are already lined up, waiting to get in. This is because effective interpretive design motivates people to discover meaning. In a world where nearly everything is for sale, genuinely meaningful experiences are rare commodities. In fact, they are priceless.

    Increasingly often, museum administrators are deciding to create a new type of institution because they realize that inward-looking, nostalgic, and research-focused museums can't hang on much longer. And they are depending on architects to help them make the transition.

    As patronage of malls, sports events, and public libraries soars, attendance figures at most local, regional, and even state historical societies look dismal by comparison. If they are to survive, museums must engage in public life, becoming vitally important to all sectors of the community.

    At the same time, traditional funding sources old money, government subsidies are dwindling. Once-reliable volunteers, such as homemakers, and retirees, have new demands on their time.

    A Unique Design Experience

    To design an interpretive, storytelling museum is an exceptional professional opportunity for an architect. For these projects, designers are called upon to consciously create spatial and conceptual experiences whose primary purpose is the discovery of meaning. What special demands does this place on the project architect?

    To be successful and enduringly popular, museum designs require synergistic collaboration among design professionals, clients/ stakeholders, and the community of museum-goers, both actual and potential.



    ArchWeek Photo

    A community-based design process with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs helped Stastny Burke Architects and Formations create the award-winning Museum at Warm Springs, Oregon.
    Photo: Formations Inc.

    ArchWeek Photo

    Regional colors, textures, and vernacular architectural forms weave together the traditions and values of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute peoples in the Museum at Warm Springs.
    Photo: Formations Inc.


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