A St. Louis Arch Case Study of the Jefferson's Vision Exhibit
The St. Louis Arch is well known for its Landmark status, however many may not be aware there is a treasure trove of knowledge held deep inside. Housing a variety of enchanting and educational exhibits showcasing the vast history of St. Louis, the St. Louis Arch Museum is a must see for any tourist or native St. Louisan. These exhibits span over hundreds of years of St. Louis history, depicting events of great historical value, while welcoming visitors to the city.
Often being called “The Gateway to the West,” it should be appropriate that the very first exhibit in the Arch Museum would be “Jefferson’s Vision,” a look into the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This expedition to explore western North America, led by Meriweather Lewis and his co-captain William Clark, contributed to many scientific and social discoveries, as well as improving relations with Native Americans. They, accompanied by translator and guide Sacagawea, journeyed across thousands of miles of varying terrain, even mountains, seeing all manner of unknown flora and fauna.
As interesting as this expedition sounds, the exhibit itself lacked consumer appeal, and was difficult to navigate with no clear direction or starting point. Jefferson’s Vision is supposed to be the first exhibit you visit, but myself and others naturally ventured into it last, rather than first. The exhibit did not utilize very much imagery or visual stimulation, especially Native American imagery, and overall the look and feel did not incite very much emotion.
I drew inspiration from paintings and depictions of Lewis, Clark, and Sacagawea, as well as the terrain they traveled through – The Smokey Mountains, The Great Plains, and vast woodlands across North America.
To remedy this problem, I utilized engaging imagery and natural elements, brighter colors, emotionally charged language, and an all new floor plan layout to entice and guide visitors into the exhibit. To make it more organic, I used varying plant motifs and colors, and honed in on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which many people are aware of and interested in, but may not know much about. In addition I added more Native American imagery, which is another subject of great interest to most consumers and visitors. The font I chose has a natural and Native feel, which is carried through the design elements.
While the St. Louis Arch Museum has a great many artifacts and information to showcase, the set up and utilization of the space as well as the displays and infographics are in need of more character and emotion. These designs bring forward the key points of the exhibit while maintaining historical accuracy, and offer new ways to look at the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This shift in perspective with the use of more visual elements and storytelling allows for visitors to experience this exhibit and the history of Jefferson’s Vision in a new, more profound, and impactful way.