becoming madison


  • exhibition studies
  • research
  • prototypes
  • design
  • data collection
  • signage design
  • materials study


As James Madison University renovates its flagship building, Wilson Hall, plans were put in place for an exhibit of the university's history. This project was a proposal for that exhibition design.

During this collaborative project, our biggest challenge was to avoid the clichés of JMU style and academia. Our goal was to design an exhibit that represented the school holistically and respectfully. We also desired to create a system that would allow this exhibit to remain dynamic and flexible to changing history and new events. 

The first impression a visitor receives entering the space is a huge raw chunk of Virginia bluestone mounted on a walnut base. This rock is the literal "cornerstone" of the school's architecture and style. Running chronologically, a modular offset panel system was designed to highlight significant events from the university's founding in 1908 to present day. Ghosted back, halftoned vinyl photographs of some of the school's most notable figures are mounted on the wall. After the chronological timeline ends, a floor-to-ceiling vinyl backdrop of the school's crest offers a photo opportunity. Lastly, on the final wall an interactive section offers visitors to share a moment of their "Madison Experience."

This exhibition design provides a holistic view of JMU's history yet remains current, flexible, and engaging. We were very pleased to hear that our proposal was well-received and being considered for implementation.

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