Best of Papers – 8th International Conference of Museums for Peace

Seth Frankel’s paper Sierra Leone Peace Museum: A Remembrance of Violence, Peace and Rebuilding was recently published as a Best Conference Papers by the No Gun Ri International Peace Foundation in South Korea.

Studio Tectonic is pleased to have been able to participate and been recognized for its work about this important museum. Click HERE to view the paper with project images as a PDF.


International Network of Museums for Peace Conference

Seth Frankel presented on the creation and opening of the Sierra Leone Peace Museum at the 8th INMP conference – this year in South Korea. The conference occurs every three years at a different international location. Approximately 200 participants gathered at the NoGunRi Memorial near Gimcheon, in south central Korea. NoGunRi is the location of a peace museum centered around the massacre site of nearly 300 civilian Koreans by American soldiers at the early days of the Korean War. The massacre was denied by both the US and Korean government and only acknowledged in 1999 thanks to the decades of pressure by one of the Korean survivors.

Studio Tectonic’s conference paper is available here and chronicles the efforts to create the Sierra Leone Peace Museum by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience and Studio Tectonic (4mb, 10 pages).

Sierra Leone Peace Museum_Seth Frankel_Page_01


Learn about the INMP at

Museums for Peace – ST Featured on The Evergreen Mind

The Evergreen Mind Blog, at The Evergreen State College, recently featured Seth Frankel’s work in creating museums of peace. Here’s an excerpt and link…

“Few stories are harder than the stories Seth Frankel ’93 designs and develops into exhibitions for museums across the country. As principal of his Colorado-based exhibition design firm, Studio Tectonic, he’s developed wide ranging exhibits. He’s created exhibits on watersheds, paleontology and beer (the beer and paleo exhibits aren’t the same, by the way, but he claims eyewitness account that there’s plenty of beer in paleo field camps)…”

Boulder Pops?…Exhibiting for a Day.

One current museum trend actually has nothing to do with a museum- or the walls of a museum at least. More and more frequently, designers, artists, pedestrians even- are committing guerilla museum exhibit design at impromptu to Pop-Up locations all around their cities. Pop –Up Museum is “a temporary exhibit created by the people who show up to participate” and usually only lasts for a few hours. Read more »

The Role of Museums in Transitional Courts and Legacy

Studio Tectonic was interviewed by the International Judicial Monitor about the role of museums in court legacy building.

One Door Closes and Another One Opens:  The Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Sierra Leone Peace Museum

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Excerpt below:

“What is the legacy that courts leave behind?  This is one of the questions that the Special Court for Sierra Leone asked itself as it was facing that it would be the first international court to complete and accomplish its mandate. There is the obvious fact that courts leave behind such as judgments, sentences, and jurisprudence, but what else can courts leave behind?  Could that something else be a peace museum and public archive?”

Broncos Superbowl Museum Wager!

If you haven’t heard, the Denver Art Museum and the Seattle Art Museum have wagered on the Superbowl. The winning team’s museum will be temporarily loaned a work depicting the vanquished mascot.

So, in the spirit of all things Superbowl and Denver, Studio Tectonic is making itself available, pro bono, to design the winning exhibition to celebrate our victory. We promise unabashed showmanship, a lack of humility and plenty of Seahawk shaming – of course in a tastefully DAM way.

Denver Art Museum, take us up on the offer! Broncos, put us to work.


Forehead Mask, Nuxalk, ca. 1880, alder, red cedar bark, copper, pins, paint, 4 1/8 by 11 3/8 by 5 1/8 inches.

Seattle Art Museum Object – Forehead Mask, Nuxalk, ca. 1880, alder, red cedar bark, copper, pins, paint, 4 1/8 by 11 3/8 by 5 1/8 inches. (Image from press release, 1/27/14)

The Anti-Cartoon : Screenless Animations

It’s unavoidable that we think in animations. We’ve watched them for decades. Video screens at home and in museums are the norm.

In a recent exhibition on earthquakes located at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Studio Tectonic worked with Pacific Studio, the project fabricator, to develop an animation-like interactive without the electrical cord. Why?

The client’s concept was simple. The earth compresses at differing rates depending on location. This translates to differing GPS monitoring data and is critically useful in understanding and tracking the malleability of the earth’s plates. The development team, led by Shelley Olds, an UNAVCO science educator, believed that the concept was critical for visitor understanding. Digital media costs, durability for an exhibit that may travel, and user experience (i.e. screen overload in science centers) factored into a desire to create an analog expression beyond 2D graphics. We felt that a hands-on mechanical interactive would be far more likely to be engaged by the visitor at this location, and it became clear that a single-action mechanical interactive fit the desired user interface.  This kind of interactivity engaged the visitor to directly control the rate of motion, the amount of motion and the rate of release. This level of interactivity is not possible with electronics. The physical feel of control can’t be mimicked on-screen.

Because of museum developer’s commonly-held leanings to use computer animations, we often slip into exploring  vast array of content that can be delivered within computer interactives. With a single-action mechanical interactive, even the most Rube Goldberg contraption forces the designers to focus on the just relevant and conveyable content. This stripping down was beneficial in the planning process. It demanded us to eliminate. Ultimately, this is a benefit to the visitor. With no learning curve, within a mere seconds of time commitment the visitor gets the concept through the physical act of doing. The direct hand-to-mind connection allows more room for the mind to pay attention to just what matters.

Still, the design of an interactive that effectively shows an animated-style state-change with variable movements is a technically high hurdle.

Through various concept testings, materials explorations and prototypes, the team settled on a fabric solution that uses differing levels of resistance applied to the weave to allow a single section of the printed graphics to react differently to a single motion. The fabric aligns to a 2nd-surface glass printed series of crosshairs that show the “normal” position of the GPS units. Moving the spring-loaded arm show the simulated Earth moving at the differing rates desired.

The exhibit is newly opened. Hatfield Marine Science Center will use its summative evaluation team to test the exhibit and determine if the concept is well-delivered with this interactive. Results will follow as testing provides us with the details.

Project was created under the direction of UNAVCO, with funding from NSF and NASA.

Potent Objects

Studio Tectonic is currently planning and designing the Peace Museum in Sierra Leone which communicates the story of its brutal civil war. On a recent planning trip, I worked with the museum team to help develop the master plan for the museum which will open in phases – starting in late 2013.  Part of the site visit was a field trip into remote places in the country to meet with the community task forces that are actively collecting objects that were used during the war. Read more »