Client: University of Michigan Museum of Natural History
Location: Ann Arbor, MI, United States
Completion date: 2019
Lord Cultural Resources
Xibitz and Taylor Studios
Cells Design Engineering, Fabrication, and Installation
Additional Metal Fabrication
Lake Region Design and Fabrication
The exhibit’s cells are mockups of actual cells, the central attraction of the exhibit. So while they are intended to represent real cells, they must support the graphic educational content of the exhibit, and fit the practical constraints of the museum- cost-effectiveness, durability (this means kid-proof!), and ease of use.
In the prototype phase we learned that the complex design of the cells required a new way to make the supporting structure, as our normal method would have been too laborious (expensive!) So we reached out to a local fab shop for help. Together we devised a welded skeleton made from bent steel rods.
This construction method has one small disadvantage: the pieces can’t be disassembled! So we devised a truck-packing scheme that allows all of the cells to arrive unharmed.
The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History is embedded among the labs at U-M's innovative new Biological Sciences Building. Designed by American architectural firms SmithGroup and ENNEAD, this building re-unites the departments of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology, as well as ecology and evolutionary biology within one building, while also housing the institution’s widely popular Museum of Natural History, increasing the public’s exposure to the biological sciences and the important work occurring at the University of Michigan. The museum and its exhibits, including Under the Microscope, are open to the public and admission is free.