American G.I. Experience
🎨UX/UI DESIGNER + 🏺CURATOR
Museum Director Leisha Mullins understands that the museum has a stigma for being a 'World War II tank museum,' even though its collections are vast and far-reaching. The tanks are a huge draw for the museum but it is important to look beyond them.
Therefore, the museum strives to shift the focus onto the experiences of individual American service members and their relation to the vehicles- particularly World War I through the Vietnam War, via digital means bringing the museum into the new age.
My solution was a brand new digital exhibit. Experiences of real veterans are highlighted via an interactive touchscreen featuring relevant artifacts. These artifacts include videos of the vehicles in action, interactive uniform descriptions, curated photo albums, and spoken 'journal entries' by the veterans. The exhibit's user will be given the choice of three different military eras to create a personalized "American G.I. Experience."
In 2014, the Museum of the American G.I. was opened to the public. Though open, the construction of the museum's infrastructure remains ongoing and evolving.
The Challenge 🏛️
HIGH LEVEL TIMELINE
MAKE OF THE TEAM
14 week project
Assisted by talented developer and motions graphics artist, Lauren Sanders
Develop immersive museum exhibit
Exhibit Abstract & Goals:
Before I began designing, I created mood boards to express the solemn tone I was going for. I picked a cooler color scheme and handwritten-inspired fonts.
Setting the Tone
Military Motifs & Design:
Color, Emphasis & Space:
Layout & Typography:
The Director of the museum allowed us to photograph museum artifacts to feature within the exhibit. These artifacts included 360 renderings of uniforms, accessories such as walkie-talkies, and live-action military vehicle footage.
We were allowed to model and photograph the uniforms from the museum. These uniforms were showcased in the "Military Uniform" sections of the exhibit. There, details of the uniforms were explained and given context.
I created print museum signage to compliment the digital exhibit. This graphic provided instruction to the user.
Welcome to the American G.I. Experience!
Users are prompted to select which chapter of the journey they would like to begin with. All campaigns are accessible through the menu at all times.
For each campaign, I wrote introductory text to create mood and setting.
I also wrote introductory scripts for each campaign. These scripts were to be read as a first-person account by a well-known figure from each era. Each script was inspired by autobiographical and historical accounts. They were then later recorded in a sound studio.
WWII Video Run-through:
For each military chapter - WWI, WWII, Vietnam - I created a transition video in After Effects. I used these intro videos set the tone, location, and to showcase a relevant military vehicle that is also on display at the museum.
Transition Videos 📍
I featured environmental soundbites such as jungle noises, tank rumbling, and helicopter propeller sound as needed. For example, I set the WWII transition video aboard an M18 Hellcat in the heat of the Battle of Hürtgen Forest. The design choices I made were based on first-hand accounts of sights and sounds from that battle. I produced the vehicle imagery from my photographs of the vehicles taken at the museum.
Vietnam Transition Video:
WWII Transition Video Screenshot:
Vietnam Transition Video Screenshot:
Uniforms + Vehicles 🎖️
Each campaign featured an educational section dedicated to military uniforms, vehicles, and photo albums designed by me.
WWII Uniform Video:
WWII Vehicle Video:
WWI Vehicle Video Screenshot:
WWII Photo Album Intro Video:
WWII Photo Album:
I chose specific photographs and stories to be featured in the albums based on the relevance to the audience. For example, I chose Lieutenant Turney Leonard as a featured story because he is a graduate of Texas A&M University and a veteran of the Battle of Hurtgen Forest. It is a story that is near and dear to the heart of many citizens of College Station, TX.
Vietnam Photo Album:
TITLE OF THE CALLOUT BLOCK
You must consider your audience, your educational goals, and those of the museum stakeholders. You must also remain conscious of the budget as they are typically limited in museums. Exhibits based on military experiences, in particular, can be a sensitive subject. It is important to remain tactful and respectful at all times. I am thankful to the Museum Director, Dr. Leisha Mullins to allow my team to handle delicate museum artifacts and for providing professional guidance.
Designing a museum exhibit is a challenge, as there are many viewpoints to consider.