CHICAGO – The team at full-service masterplanning and exhibit design firm Luci Creative is very proud to detail its far-reaching contributions to the First Division Museum at Cantigny Park, all of which serve as key facets of the museum's year-long, $8 million renovation.
From Luci's perspective, efforts to commemorate the storied U.S. Army's First Infantry Division include design, development, and implementation of the permanent new Duty First exhibit, a complete reimagining of the epic First in War gallery, and extensive storytelling installations artfully integrating interactive media and other historic artifacts through thoughtful experiential design.
"We were hired to develop a holistic new experience for the First Division Museum with a contemporary design approach, aiming to inspire deeper connections between visitors and all those who serve our country," said AJ Goehle, Principal at Luci Creative. "As we are seeing already, the new design elements, multi-layered media and interactives are helping visitors get to know the world-famous Division, its soldiers and their stories, while also developing a better understanding of their own roles impacting today's military."
"Since we opened on August 26, our visitation is up by 30% and visitors are thrilled, many saying they had never really thought about how much we ask our soldiers to do every day around the world," said Paul Herbert, Executive Director at First Division Museum. "That is exactly the insight we wanted – to connect the visiting public with their soldiers and the missions they undertake in our name."
After completing extensive research on the First Division Museum's visitor experiences, the Luci team leapt into their roles as masterplanners and project managers, working alongside Herbert and many others. To design and produce over 15 integrated media and interactive elements - including on-camera interviews with 26 soldiers that accounted for over 120 individual stories and over 350 environmental graphics - Luci oversaw creative strategy, content development, exhibit design, lighting design, and graphic design. Project partners included Pepper Construction as the general contractor, Ravenswood Studio for exhibit fabrication and installation, and media partners Northern Light Productions, Unified Field, Brave New Pictures, Elbe Creative Partners, and Creative Technology for AV design and integration.
For more than 100 years, the First Division has exemplified the words, "No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great: Duty first!" Bearing that rich and dramatic history in mind, the designers set out to put the Division's own story first, while also incorporating the voices of actual soldiers into the 2,500 square-foot Duty First gallery. As Goehle mentioned, another design imperative was to engage visitors by educating them on how civilian life continues to impact the obligations of America's military forces.
Reflecting The Big Red One's thrilling history from 1970 through the present, visitors to Duty First can explore exhibit zones treating each of the division's specific Battle, Counterinsurgency, Deterrence, Military Assistance and Peacekeeping missions. Among the numerous media and interactive installations engaging all emotions and senses, large-scale touchscreens present life-sized soldiers telling their own stories. Meanwhile, a full-scale Blackhawk helicopter equipped with Virtual Reality (VR) headsets transports visitors directly into a house raid in Iraq, while boarding a Bradley fighting vehicle whisks them into a Gulf War battle.
To maintain focus and attention on soldier stories, the overall design philosophy of Duty First is subtle and textural. Informative infographics and battle maps also abound, designed at the highest standard to communicate strength and authenticity. Example touchpoints include artifact cases clad in metal, which encourage visitors to touch and feel the materials' weight and physicality, and better sense the dangers soldiers face.
Behind the scenes of Duty First, Luci introduced a custom Content Management System, allowing the First Division Museum to vary and update stories over time. "The soldiers' stories form the central core of the Duty First gallery," explained Kevin Snow, Creative Director at Luci. "Those personal accounts are living testaments to the types of missions going on today all over the world. As the demands on our soldiers change, these stories will be continuously updated... allowing visitors to see exactly what it means to keep the peace, or to end it, when that becomes necessary."
While Luci's team took great pride in bringing Duty First to life, they were equally enthralled to apply their design sensibilities to the museum's popular First in War permanent exhibit, which honors the Division's story from its 1917 creation through the Vietnam War. Here as well, the reimagined exhibit includes new graphics, thematic environments, and films amplifying epic soldier experiences from WWI, WWII, the Cold War, and the Vietnam War.
From end to end, the First Division Museum renovation was minutely focused on visitor experiences, and this includes extensive efforts to promote dialogue and civic engagement. The overall efforts are reportedly paying massive dividends, with one of the Duty First interactive features producing especially valuable insights. At three civic engagement kiosks, visitors have been encouraged to reflect on our decisions as a democracy and to share their viewpoints through a short poll. To date, thousands of participants have completed the poll, and their insights are driving new features, content, and updates that will impact visitor experiences in the future.
About Luci Creative
Luci Creative is a full-service museum masterplanning and exhibit design firm which also develops and implements compelling experiences and spaces for cultural institutions and brands. It is a team of experts who specialize in all aspects of creative strategy, environmental design, graphic design, interactive development, and implementation. Luci believe that a successful experience must be informative, engaging and exciting. By amplifying the client's stories and translating them into three-dimensional experiences through the use of the firm's multifaceted services, Luci's team captivates, enlightens, and entertain audiences like never before. For more information, please visit http://www.lucicreative.com.