Creating Spaces: Savile Lord '91 Shares Museum Design Insights with Fay Students
Fay’s Advanced 3D Design students are tackling the challenge of museum design this term with the help of Savile Lord ‘91, Director of the SPAM® Museum and Community Relations for Hormel Foods. Savile joined the Hormel Foods sales force in 2011, and her experience working with local businesses and her reputation as a community-focused individual led to her being tapped for the challenge of building a SPAM® Museum in downtown Austin, Minnesota. The museum opened in 2016 and Savile’s experience in designing a museum space that educates, entertains, and engages visitors was a valuable kick-off to the AD3DD museum design project.
The SPAM® Museum illustrates just how much information and entertainment can be packed into a 14,000 square-foot floor plan. Students received a virtual tour of a wartime-themed World War II exhibit; Can Central, where visitors can email tasty-sounding SPAM® recipes to themselves, take an interactive quiz, and hashtag to their heart’s delight on SPAM®’s social media feeds; a World Market international gallery that showcases how different cultures use SPAM® products around the world; SPAM® Brand 101, an interactive exhibit that shows how the product is made and allows families to compete against each other in a race to build SPAM® products; an indoor, farm-themed play area for kids; a pop culture gallery featuring the Monty Python SPAM®-themed skit, Broadway musical, and SPAM®’s own Sir Can-A-Lot character; and, of course, a gift shop containing hundreds of branded items and gifts. Above all of this, a train of 20 different flavor varieties of SPAM® cans winds its way over the museum on a 390-foot conveyor belt.
As Savile discussed the various exhibits in the museum, she gave students insight into how they were intentionally designed with the museum’s visitors in mind. For example, while the traffic flow inside many museums has a maze-like quality, the SPAM® museum is organized around a central hub so that with a single turn visitors will always be able to reorient themselves to the center of the space. Savile explained the importance of a museum being a “living space” that is constantly evolving. Many of their exhibits incorporate video and interactive screens so that they can be easily and inexpensively updated. She also pointed out that a well-designed museum needs to accommodate the attention span of the visitors and the variety of ways in which they want to interact with the space. While some want to read information, others prefer to watch a video, or have an active experience like playing a game or taking a selfie.
Students are taking what they learned from Savile and are currently working in small groups to design a museum for different Hormel Food brands such as Planters® nuts, Skippy® Brand Peanut Butter, and Wholly Guacamole®. Savile sent students a care package filled with Hormel Brand products to help them get to know their subject better, and the students are currently in the process of creating conceptual drawings and models of their museum designs. Design Teacher Andrew Shirley hopes to welcome Savile back to present the projects and get her feedback when they are complete.