Springboard Design

Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm: Unknown Stories of the Civil War was a temporary exhibition at the Heinz History Center that featured 96 recently discovered watercolor drawings and maps depicting Private Robert Knox Sneden’s experiences in the Union Army of the Potomac, as well as never-before-exhibited artifacts and archival materials that explore the Civil War experience in Western Pennsylvania. The exhibit was open between April 4 and September 30, 2003.

Springboard was asked to design a single, unified exhibition that simultaneously enabled visitors to tour the Sneden watercolors independent of the other artifacts if desired. To achieve this, we designed a wood stockade fence that diagonally bifurcated the galleries. The fence became the backdrop for Sneden’s watercolors, many of which depict similar fences that he painted during his confinement as a prisoner of war. The fence was also a metaphor for the country itself, whose order and unity had been fundamentally disrupted by the war.

Springboard’s design for Eye of the Storm at The Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center was nominated for a prestigious National Association of Museum Exhibitions Award of Excellence.

In addition to developing the concept for the exhibition design, Springboard developed casework details, colors, graphics, and worked closely with curators and educators to locate artifacts and develop interactive play environments. Exhibition signage and exhibition labeling was integral to the design and featured stockade fence fragments as backdrops to broadside style interpretative panels.