FRISCO, TX: The Museum of the American Railroad has engaged the Australian firm Freeman-Ryan Design to provide conceptual planning and prepare design specifications for its new museum in Frisco, Texas. The Sydney-based design group will create an exciting, new visitor experience that takes advantage of the museum’s superlative collection of historic trains. The firm is the finalist among several organizations considered for the conceptual phase of what will become a significant new tourism destination in North Texas and the Southwest.
Freeman-Ryan Design (FRD) is a multi-disciplinary practice specializing in the museum and cultural tourism industry. The firm has an extensive background in creating museum experiences centered on large objects and collections. Their work includes planning, design and exhibition of submarines, military aircraft, and corporate collections. FRD has also developed exhibits around historic structures including power plants, distilleries, and famous residences such as the Archbishop’s Palace of Kent. Among their previous clients are several maritime and railway museums worldwide, including the National Railway Museum in York, England.
FRD brings international experience and exposure to the museum’s exciting relocation project in Frisco. Their work will include spatial planning & design, and the creation of communication objectives that will become the stories behind the collection. Using FRD’s architects and exhibit planners, the work will focus on creating relevant and stimulating visitor experiences that appeal to a new audience.
FRD’s background covers a wide range of thematic content ranging from the history of technology and environmental science, to social and natural history, as well as the decorative and fine arts. This approach provides an understanding of how varying subjects and themes can be integrated to enhance the presentation and interpretation of items such as the museum’s extensive collection of rolling stock, smaller three-dimensional artifacts, and archival material.
Exhibit planning and design will take advantage of multi-media technologies that include theatrical lighting and directed sound. Known as Object Theater, the use of this projection technology will create a dramatic presentation of the museum’s historic railcars and locomotives. This high-impact multi-media technique offers an ever-changing visual experience that brings motion and life to large objects and spaces – an approach that bridges the gap between commercial tourism and museum education. This technique has been successfully applied to live concerts and large exhibits including Titanic, and is now finding new uses in museum settings.
While education and historic preservation remain central to the museum’s mission, the planned exhibits and their presentation satisfy the contemporary visitors’ expectations while still focusing on communication. This approach is key to today’s history museums remaining viable and relevant in our society.