Washington: My Home

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Washington: My Home Exhibit

Washington State History Museum, Tacoma Washingtion

It’s about arriving and belonging, and it’s a story to which we can all relate.

This fall Washington State History Museum in Tacoma opened the second phase of renewal in their permanent history hall. As with Phase One, Storyline Studio led the design.

The central theme is the search for “home” in a new place. Indeed, this is reflected in the exhibition’s title: Washington, My Home.

Working with the Museum team, Storyline imagined an exhibition that would not follow the traditional approach of a chronology of immigration, but instead explore four themes central to the immigrant experience:

  • Seeking Change – the catalyst propelling people to move.
  • The Journey – the profound impact of the journey to a new home.
  • Belonging – fitting in, making a home.
  • Washington Changed Me – the ways in which people adapt and change and also how they change the place in which they live.

Given the nature of the subject we felt it was vital that the voices of immigrants – both past and present – find a home in this presentation. We also wanted visitors to be able to add their voice to the experience.

Destination Washington is the introductory experience. Fifteen pairs of shoes and one set of footprints represent the stories of sixteen people. As each are illuminated, visitors can listen to the voices of those people as they tell their arrival story.

The Arrival Windows surround the exhibition space on three sides. The illuminated panes of this vast window wall carry the images of people who have journeyed to make Washington their home.

In front of the windows runs an interpretive shelf exploring the story of  immigration in Washington. It is punctuated by illuminated display cases holding personal objects and by Story Slates on which are chalked remarkable arrival stories.

Story Chests: two carts sit as islands in the center of the hall. They are stacked with suitcases. As visitors explore the suitcase stacks they will find some surprises. Many of the cases hold intimate immigrant stories told through objects and simple physical or digital inter-actives.

In Washington Changed Me several devices provide opportunities for visitors to express themselves. Visitors can mark where their family originated on a world map. On a simple analog counter visitors can record the reason their family made Washington their home. Using a touchscreen (that simulates the keys of typewriter) visitors post a digital postcard in response to a thought-provoking immigration question.

Thanks to our production partners:

Creo Industrial Arts: Exhibit Fabrication

Richard Lewis Media Group: Computer & Video Design and Production

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