Ralph Appelbaum

Activating Public Space

  • W/ museums to provoke levels of response
  • American Museum of Natural History & United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Activate the total environment (pathways, transitional spaces)
  • look for architectural and environmental metaphors to create concepts for exhibitions
  • RESULTS SEEN: “people’s sense of immersion, attention span, and enhanced memory of their experience” so they will talk to others and engage in more activities

The Mammal Halls

  • opened in may 1994
  • process of planning, designing & Constructing halls: for reinterpreting the collection, differently organized
  • creating a spatial metaphor: important. “a walk through time” wanted to break thru this mold. instead, use evolutionary history as a respresentation of family history-portrait of a family tree but expanded it
  • FAMILY TREE: the main circulation path and alcoves- visitors branch out and learn more about that branch-it activates public space that makes it more of the exhibitions message (NOT NEUTRAL)
  • get rid of dull and dim fossil hall. the original 19th century grandeur of halls was better. ex: “light blocking renovations would be a beautiful metaphor for the grand adventure of evolutionary science” but kept areas light filled
  • physical design would be transparent


  1. How does the museum look today? What has changed in 20 years?