George Washington University’s Textile Museum Reinvents the Photo Booth

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The lobby and traditional photo booth of The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum was reimagined as a thoughtful space for expression and reflection.

Nominating Company: Second Story, part of SapientNitro, Portland, Oregon
Venue: The George Washington University Museum & The Textile Museum/Common Threads, Washington D.C.
Project: The George Washington University Museum & The Textile Museum/Common Threads
Category: Arts, Entertainment & Recreation

BACKGROUND
With “Unraveling Identity: Our Textiles, Our Stories,” the Textile Museum brought to light how textiles have been used throughout history to express identity in its many forms, from personal to cultural to professional. However, creating a historical artifact-based exhibition can be a difficult proposition. Visitors can read about the objects on display, but the experience can feel distant and unrelatable. The museum wanted a way for visitors to engage with textiles more directly in order to highlight their everyday relevance.

CHALLENGES
Because our installation would be the only thing of its kind in the museum, we needed to create something easily accessible and universally appealing. We took a familiar concept (the ubiquitous photo booth) and transformed it into a space for playful introspection.

We considered a number of variables to guarantee every visitor could take a good photograph, from the quality of the camera to the lighting to the positioning of the seating within the space. We used our studio lab to determine how to make people feel comfortable posing and how to get them to smile, and we designed a clean, clear and colorful digital interface that would be intuitive and compelling for museum visitors, young and old.

The lobby and traditional photo booth of The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum was reimagined as a thoughtful space for expression and reflection.SOLUTIONS
Our solution put people right in the center of the story, allowing them to become a part of the exhibition.

Visitors use a touchscreen to select the words that best describe them, choosing from a variety of categories and character traits. They pose for a series of photographs, select their favorite and then find a detail in what they’re wearing and describe how it conveys their identity. When they submit their photo, it becomes part of a browsable digital gallery. Visitors get to see the photos taken by those who share their identifiers, encouraging them to discover for themselves the common threads that connect us to our textiles … and to each other. In the process, they also find that the items we wear, often without thinking, are actually rich with meaning. The t-shirt you stole from your big brother. The shoes you saved up for months to buy. Your grandmother’s scarf, etc..

The lobby and traditional photo booth of The George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum was reimagined as a thoughtful space for expression and reflection.RESULTS
Monika Hirschbichler, Exhibition Coordinator at George Washington University Museum & The Textile Museum, said of the experience, “Visitors just love it. lt doesn’t matter what age group, everybody engages with it. Second Story went above and beyond what we could’ve ever imagined.”

Our clients were elated by the interactive’s instant popularity. They saw visitors of all ages and demographics enjoying the experience and even noticed people changing their clothing and coming back for another shot. Initially intended to be temporary, the installation is now a permanent fixture at the museum, and the “Common Threads” gallery continues to grow.

PROJECT PARTNERS
Fabricator: Scenario Custom Scenery

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