Madison Children's Museum
Madison, Wisconsin

Making the WilderNest | Water Exhibits | Hodge Podge Mahal | Tinkerer's Workshop | Roof Top | Log Cabin

The Making of the WilderNest
Conceptualization and design work for this exhibit started in the latter half of 2007. As Exhibit Architects, we worked with a fantastic team of museum staff, artisans, creative child development consultants, helpful building officials, and other specialists and building architects.

(above) Lou draws out the exhibits for a Museum board meeting; (below) Roger meets with craftspeople.

The Cozy Cottage ended up displacing the Office; with it's cordwood walls and home-like interior, it affords parents a quiet respite. The 'village square' is in fact a sitting circle, a space for impromptu play or programmed performances.

Early concept drawings designed to create a 'village' of huts and linked aeries (above, right) with a Treehous above a Stone Grotto, a Baby Nest (at right), and a horizontal rock-climbing wall, to welcome children from infancy to five.
(at right) Early concept drawings for the Water Dome and wraparound ramp .
The Music Hut
Children play the drums and other instruments inside the Music Hut -- a straw-clay structure with earthen plaster and hearty wood-shake roof. "Mouse holes" allow crawling under the Troll Bridge and Stone Grotto.

The Dress-Up Hut
Here there is bread baking, fire-tending and taking care of little ones. With it's stone base, grass-thatched roof, and cob hearth, this structure takes it's inspiration from rural Mayan dwellings.

Months in advance, artisans cut the saplings for the mud-covered walls and cured them in the woods to the proper bend.


The Stone Grotto
The way the spiral staircase to the Treehouse formed the thick, curvilinear Stone Grotto needed to fit 'just so' and was very difficult to adequately describe in conventional drawings. The only way to conceptualize it was via models ~ physical and 3-D computer studies .

The Skeleton Bridge

The bridge -- curved wooden glulam walkway salvaged from a local grocery store demolition and ribs made from leftover concrete formboards -- provides a path for young walkers and wheelchair users to reach the Treehouse and the Crow's Nest. (Below) A finished concept sketch after design approvals.

(below) Studying an early scale model and trying to predict movement, pinch-points, and structural requirements.

To bring so many unique exhibit concepts into reality required constant invention from designers and craftspeople alike. (Below) Dan tests the suspended section of the new Skeleton Bridge for the proper amount of movement.


Making the WilderNest | Water Exhibits | Hodge Podge Mahal | Tinkerer's Workshop | Roof Top | Log Cabin

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