Built by the River
Not to be out-shadowed by the Detroit Historical Society’s main museum on Woodward, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum re-opened to the public on May 18th after extensive renovations. This little gem of a museum sits overlooking the Detroit River on Belle Isle. It covers Detroit’s maritime history, highlighting the City’s longstanding relationship with the River. The Museum boasts a walk in wheelhouse from the cargo vessel William Clay Ford and spectacular views of the shipping traffic on the River. Good Design Group designed a complete overhaul of the Dossin’s main gallery—Built by the River.
Built by the River is divided into 3 zones, each showcasing a different way Detroiters have used the River. In the first zone, early navigation, farming and fur-trapping is discussed. Visitors can climb into a life-size voyageur canoe, pretending to paddle along the Detroit River.
In the second zone, visitors explore the heyday of Detroit’s maritime past, exploring shipbuilding, cargo transport, and passenger excursions through a series of fun hands-on activities.
In the final zone, visitors learn about recreation on the River. A “speedboat theater” shows some daring race footage, and visitors are also encouraged to share their memories of fun on the River. Bob-Lo Island stories and memorabilia pique nostalgia, while fishing lures and boat models remind visitors of lazy summer days on the River.
The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is open weekends through the Summer, and admission is free! Stop by, enjoy a day on Belle Isle, and see our work. Hours, location and other information about the Dossin can be found here:
The Allesee Gallery of Culture resides in the Detroit Historical Museum’s former main entrance. While no longer used as an entrance, this round space is one of the prime galleries in the Museum. Good Design Group converted it from an underused gift-shop space, to a celebration of 20th century Detroit. We created 4 large quadrant cases, filled with objects from the collection–clothing, sports memorabilia, local business products, artwork, and music memorabilia. The tops of the cases also support large objects (450+lbs of “Little” Ceasar), drawing visitors’ attention upward to building graphics depicting Detroit’s skylines of the past. Visitor-driven “theaters” within each quadrant display additional assets–photographs, videos, and music clips from the Museum’s collection
For today’s Detroit feature, we’re going to show you a bit of our design process. For most of our projects, we create 3D models of the space, and use that as a tool for exhibit developing. Working virtually, with real dimensions helps accurately show our clients what the design will look like. It also helps them see how it will look from the visitor perspective. As an added bonus, these models are easily changed as the design evolves. Here is a simple SketchUp animation of the design for the Gallery of Culture.
And here is what the gallery ultimately ended up as. Some changes of course, but the overall design intent was carried through due, in large part, to careful planning and designing to the realities of space and budget.
Detroit & The Underground Railroad
Today we’re highlighting the Doorway to Freedom exhibit at the Detroit Historical Museum. When most people think of Detroit, they think of cars–but Detroit was also an important stop for freedom-seekers traveling along the Underground Railroad. This exhibit highlights the journey freedom-seekers made, traveling from the South to Detroit. Once in Detroit, they found a network of dedicated abolitionists who helped them make the crossing to Canada, where slave-catchers no longer had jurisdiction. Very few objects exist from this important period in Detroit’s history, but the exhibit recreates the story of freedom-seekers. Visitors follow a narrow, winding path through forest trees, buildings and eventually into Detroit. From here, they cross a symbolic river, and learn about new lives in Canada.
Detroit Goes to War
Okay, we’ve teased you enough with just a few pictures of our latest project! The Detroit Historical Museum opened on November 23, 2012 to great reviews & enthusiasm. Over the next few days, we’ll highlight each new gallery in the Detroit Historical Museum, so you can get a better look at our work. Each gallery we designed had a unique look and feel, giving visitors a unique learning experience around every corner. While we are happy to share our pictures—the best way to experience the Museum is to go there! Admission is currently free, so go ahead and enjoy a visit!
Today, we’re highlighting Detroit: The Arsenal of Democracy. Tucked in the Museum’s upper mezzanine, this gallery space wasn’t originally used for exhibits. We completely transformed this area into an in-depth exploration of Detroit’s role in World War II.
Little Syria: An Immigrant Community’s Life & Legacy
Good Design Group worked (once again) with the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. To accommodate a small budget and a big story, we developed a system of free-standing graphic structures with a city-like feel. Rich with images, quotes, text and maps, each interpretive panel interlocks into a tower structure making for easy break down and assembly. Object cases double as shipping crates, and simple interactives help visitors discover the sense of community in Little Syria.
The exhibit open now through April 21, 2013 in Dearborn and will then be traveling to sites in New York, New Jersey, and beyond. The exhibit has already garnered some good press, including a recent article in the Huffington Post, which you can read here.
While its not quite open to the public yet (officially opening November 23, in what should be a grand party. Information Here), Good Design Group would like to share a few sneak-peaks at our latest project! We’ve spent the last 3 years working with the Detroit Historical Museum staff to develop 4 brand new exhibits—Detroit: Arsenal of Democracy; Gallery of Innovation; Allesee Gallery of Culture; and Doorway to Freedom. We also designed renovations to the Museum’s Motor City exhibit and its iconic Streets of Old Detroit (for all the Streets lovers, don’t worry—we didn’t change much!). The entire 55+ year-old facility received extensive upgrades including new paint & carpet, with all interior design by us. Gene Ullery-Smith of Traverse City, MI designed the graphics. Morley Companies of Saginaw, MI fabricated the exhibits, along with some support from Niche Design, of Bay City, MI. Wall Street Productions of Southfield, MI crafted the media and David Goodman kept everything on track as a project manager. More on this project once the doors are officially open!
Good Design Group worked with the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan to create two versions of a traveling exhibit: “Patriots and Peacemakers: Arab Americans in Service to Our Country.” This ambitious exhibit tells the stories of about 200 Arab Americans who have served in the Military, Peace Corps, or as Diplomats. Following an innovative format, each featured individual’s story is displayed on an exhibit cube. Visitors are free to pick up cubes and read all sides, creating a very personal opportunity for visitors to interact with the exhibit.
In December of 2010, Good Design Group’s southeastern Michigan office relocated to Ypsilanti. In an effort to get to know some of her neighbors, Jen attended a neighborhood association meeting. One glass of wine and 2 cookies later, she found herself on the board, and took on the project of a re-designing a logo.
As a volunteer effort, Jen designed a suite of logos for use on various publications and promotions for the Normal Park Neighborhood Association (NPNA). Known for its adorable tree-lined streets and friendly neighbors, the NPNA board selected a group of logo options and colors that they felt best represented their community.