Friday, May 18, 2018

da Vinci Workshop at the Discovery Museum

As I wrote in my previous post about my design work for the Water Gallery, The Discovery Museums in Acton, Massachusetts were recently renovated to combine both the original Science Discovery Museum and Children's Discovery Museum into one 16,000 sq ft. redesigned space now called the Discovery Museum. I was hired by Paul Orselli Workshop to create the environmental graphics and artwork for some of the new exhibit spaces, one of which was da Vinci Workshop. The da Vinci Workshop is a hands-on STEAM makerspace where kids can design and engineer their own creations using tools and a variety of recycled materials. Outside the workshop area are several simple machine and engineering interactives. 

The project called for an entry/title sign that incorporated a full body portrait of da Vinci in the style of da Vinci based on his only known self portrait. This was quite the tall order and, I'll admit, a bit intimidating. It required some research on my part since there are no full body paintings of da Vinci and the drawing is only of his head.
*Interesting side note: No one can say with absolute certainty that the portrait is actually of da Vinci. The drawing was done when he was 58-60 years old (he died at age 67) and his portrait is of a much older man. Some people have speculated that he purposely made himself look older for reasons unknown or that it's a portrait of his father. 

In order to render his body, I researched the clothing of his time period, confirmed that he was most likely left-handed and based on his skeletal remains, approximately 5'9" tall. I re-drew his self portrait in my own hand in order to make the full body portrait look like one cohesive drawing. The next challenge was to make it look like the drawing was created during the Italian Renaissance. Incidentally, I studied renaissance painting techniques in Italy 20 years ago and this was the perfect opportunity to put some of that knowledge to use. I wasn't able to use the exact tools and materials that da Vinci would have used so I improvised with a tuscan red Prismacolor pencil on parchment and then used several different computer programs to make the drawing look appropriately aged and colored. 

We also wanted the title sign to look like it was hand painted. I decided the best way to do that would be to actually paint the lettering by hand! Many people have speculated about why da Vinci wrote from right to left and I can tell you why without even having to ask da Vinci. It's because, like myself, he was left-handed. Even though I tried to channel my inner da Vinci, I didn't paint the lettering from right to left strictly for authenticity purposes. It was actually because my hand would've smeared black paint across the entire sign. Any lefty can relate to this dilemma. 

I laid the lettering over the background which I painted on a canvas texture using Photoshop and then added several filters in On1 Photo RAW to give it an aged and weathered look. If the sign ever gets damaged, a new one can be printed to replace it. This turned out to be a wise decision since this is already the 2nd printing of the sign!

These are shelves where the children can leave their inventions to dry. I was pretty much given free rein to design something that incorporated da Vinci's sketches for the back of the shelves.

I created a 12' wide image of what I imagined da Vinci's workbench might have looked like. I looked through more than a thousand of his sketches which have been archived by the British Library, National Library of Spain and Cornell Library. This part of the project was fascinating and also made me feel really lazy. He filled so many books with drawings, inventions and observations. I really need to start sketching more!

This wall is all about simple machines. Around the corner is a gear wall so I tied the two together with these wall mounted circles using a similar color scheme. Again, I searched through the archives of da Vinci's sketches until I found some that were great examples of the six simple machines. I then added a tint of color to each of them to make them more appealing to kids and to further distinguish them from my own illustrations of basic simple machines on the smaller circles. Each simple machine illustration corresponds with one of the drawings of da Vinci's inventions.

The exhibit included a working replica of da Vinci's ornithopter. I was tasked with creating a wall mural that integrated drawings of da Vinci's flying machines. The size of this mural is 12' wide by 6' high.
Pictured above is the flying machines mural with the replica ornithopter installed. Kids can design their own flying machines and use the nearby vertical wind table to test them out.

This project was both technically and creatively challenging and I hope da Vinci would've been pleased. I was personally thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the creation of the exciting new Discovery Museum.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Discovery Museum Water Gallery

The Discovery Museums in Acton, Massachusetts were recently renovated to combine both of the original museums into one beautiful redesigned space now called the Discovery Museum. 
They have created new and reimagined immersive STEAM 
exhibit spaces for all ages. 
I had the opportunity to design some environmental graphics
 for a couple of the new galleries.
 These are pictures from the Water gallery where I designed
some fun little wall graphics.

The Water gallery is an immersive experience where children can explore the properties of water using all of their senses.

Since the water gallery is adjacent to the sound gallery, we played with onomatopoeia to create some watery sounding words.

I paired each word with a corresponding water picture such as
 Slosh, Splash and Ripple shown above.

I created five signs altogether: Splash, Drip, Ripple, Bubble and Slosh to go along with the exhibit components.

Also, be sure not to miss da Vinci Workshop when you're visiting the Discovery Museum. I contributed art and environmental graphics to this really cool space where you can get creative and tinker.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

10 Year Blogiversary!

Happy 10 Year Blogiversary to Museum Trekker! What an amazing trek it has been. It's hard to believe all of the incredible places my readers and I have journeyed to in such a short amount of time.
I don't think it's possible to count up the exact number of places I've traveled to but I would estimate that I've gone to more than one hundred museums, World Heritage sites and historical landmarks in roughly 32 U.S. states and territories and nearly two dozen countries. It's been such an inspiring, fun and exciting experience. Some times have been scary and some times have been sad but it has mostly been a joy and a privilege and it has definitely never been boring. Thank you to all my readers who have traveled along with me all of these years!

Here's some visual highlights (in no particular order) of just some of the amazing places I've visited:

Big Buddha, Phuket, Thailand

Surfers Paradise, Australia

Annapurna, Nepal
The Alamo, San Antonio, TX
Ha Long Bay, Vietnam

Swazi Cultural Village, Swaziland

Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House, Sydney, Australia

Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Montreal Botanical Gardens, Canada
My butterfly sculpture at the Bronx Zoo Butterfly Garden
Kathmandu, Nepal

COSI, Columbus, OH

Dinosaur Ridge, Morrison, CO
Chalong Temple, Phuket, Thailand

My Madagascar sign at the Bronx Zoo
Buffalo Bill Museum, Golden, CO

Nadi, Fiji

Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

Ganges River, Varanasi, India

Giants Causeway, Antrim, Ireland

Graceland, Memphis, TN

Greenbay Packers Hall of Fame, Greenbay, Wisconsin

Guinness Museum, Dublin, Ireland

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Hai Lo Prison, Vietnam

Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Hook Lighthouse, Wexford, Ireland

Tongariro River rafting, New Zealand

Iao Valley State Park, Maui, HI

The Henry Ford Museum, Michigan
John F. Kennedy Arboretum, Wexford, Ireland

Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Kruger National Park, South Africa

Liberty Bell, Philadelphia, PA

Mardi Gras World, New Orleans, LA

Monkey Temple, Kathmandu, Nepal

Mount Maunganui, New Zealand

Pearl Harbor, Oahu, HI

Pirate Ship, St. Augustine, FL

Pyramid of Teotihuacan, Mexico

Seven Sacred Pools, Hana, Hawaii

Lower East Side Tenement Museum, NYC

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, CA

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul, Turkey
Alcatraz, San Francisco, CA
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Hout Bay, Capetown, South Africa
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Poon Hill Summit (10,531') Himalayas