The mission: design a traveling Bob Marley exhibit for a 2700 SF gallery space, with extensions into the lobby and stair hall. The firm was only given previously-curated material, and the task was to design for a Miami-specific audience.
The special/temporary exhibits hall previously housed more static exhibitions. With a limited budget, the architect’s goal was to transform the space with a few bold moves to breathe a new life into the museum with this exhibit.
A local artist was commissioned to paint a mural of Bob Marley for the first impression for visitors. A palette of black and white and a serious tone compliments the exhibit, contrasting with the typical portrayal of the musician.
The black walls highlight the framed rare photos on the wall and help immerse the visitor with the content. The dramatic and dark surroundings are punctuated with the three bold volumes in in the center of the space that also serve as information panels.
The three volumes in the center of the space serve dual purposes.
Architecturally, they break up the hall into different experiences. They provide a surface for narratives on one side, house interactive drum sets inside, and serve as one side of the wrapping “Messages” zone—the final experience when the visitor leaves.
Rastafarianism was the core of Bob Marley. Keeping with the bold simplicity of the exhibit design, the architect avoided the typical scattering/overuse of the 3 Rastafarian colors (red, gold, green) in a Bob Marley exhibit. Instead, the three colors are seen as three physical stripes, like the Rastafarian flag, in the center of the exhibit. Thus, they are the core of the entire experience.
Section diagram showing how the volumes divide the two experiences.
the black walls highlight the main artifacts: rare and personal black and white photographs of Marley’s life, and introduces a level of seriousness to his image. The use of white for the messages contrasts the black and it’s so visitors can leave with a positive message in a light, airy feel.
Bob Marley’s message was in his lyrics and quotes. After viewing photographs, artifacts, concert footage, and working with interactive media, the final experience is being surrounded by Marley’s words in a bright environment, with hopes that the visitor leaves not only informed, but inspired.
In order to quickly grasp the messages to the visitor walking through, key words were enlarged as the messages wrapped the walls and floor.
On opening night, visitors spent a considerable amount of time in this area, some claiming they read each of the 95 quotes.
Bob Marley Messenger Exhibit
HistoryMiami museum, Miami | October 2013 - January 2014
S+A was the exhibit designer and interior architect for the exhibition Bob Marley Messenger on view for several months at HistoryMiami.
Curated by The GRAMMY® Museum at L.A. Live, Bob Marley Messenger arrived in Miami after stops in Los Angeles, London and Toronto. HistoryMiami engaged the entrant to create a new vision for the exhibition on its last stop in Miami before it traveled to Jamaica.
The team was inspired by the exhibition’s premise. In approaching the design, we wanted to enhance the legibility of Marley’s multi-faceted persona. Using his own words, we designed an environment that is dramatic and also introspective. The goal was to encourage the viewer to engage Bob Marley’s universal message in a very personal way.
The design transforms Marley's messages into space, creating a textual backdrop to support the exhibition's photography, albums, artifacts and other media. Components include the “Messenger Wall,’’ that reaches through the main hall and out into the entrance, and contextualizes Marley's upbringing in Jamaica. The collage of media is modulated by a neutral dark-gray backdrop that pulls vibrant Rastafarian colors and rich black-and-white photography into poignant relief.
2015 AIA Florida Award of Excellence
Photos by Robin Hill
© 2017 Shulman + Associates