Springboard Design

Art Machines


In addition to new galleries for interactive exhibits,The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh wanted to display its extensive permanent art collection in new and existing public spaces. Springboard was commissioned to find a way to bring “visual clarity” to the museum’s public spaces, and to find interesting and effective ways of displaying the museum’s art collection. Our design concept developed naturally from an understanding of the museum – its culture, eclectic personality and “kid” focus – and from the museum’s spaces, both new and existing.

The permanent art collection includes several different types of artwork: contemporary prints and drawings, silkscreen prints by Andy Warhol, puppets, industrial artifacts, and stained glass. To begin the project, we conducted a workshop to better understand the museum’s goals. Four major directives emerged: use the collection to help organize the public spaces; reflect the eclectic personality of the institution; complement the building’s architecture and variety; and don’t let the art get lost!

Children love machines. To display artwork, Springboard created a system of Art Machines to engage the art, the visitors and the building. The “Art Machines” create signposts through the facility, thus giving a sense of order to the otherwise eclectic spaces. Although each Art Machine is quite different in form – each form relating to a different function or activity – they can share a common color and so form a loose, but recognizable system.