Making Modernity

This 18,000 sf permanent exhibition at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia highlights the ways chemistry shaped the modern world. As part of the design team at Ralph Appelbaum Associates, my role included graphic design as well as graphic production. The exhibit opened in October 2008.

The exhibit features back-lit display cases intersected by a mezzanine walkway.

Detail view of display case showing approach to
titling and usage of a subtle backdrop image.

Internally illuminated title panel.
Photo: Tommy Matthews

Interpretive glass text panels are interspersed within the collections.  Photo: Tommy Matthews

View down axis of exhibit showing symmetrical arrangement of casework.  Photo: Peter Mauss/Esto

Unobtrusive labeling helps visitors identify objects on display.  Photo: Peter Mauss / Esto


Graphic production artwork examples. Exhibit elements were separated into component parts based on printing method.

A full size mockup housed at the exhibit fabricator’s shop provided a valuable opportunity to test and refine components of the design.