As part of the firm’s expansion and renovation of the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Allied Works developed a comprehensive exhibition design strategy, and designed custom exhibition furniture in partnership with Director James Steward and key curatorial staff. As an institution that occupies an historic 1908 building as well as a contemporary addition, the challenge was to design a flexible system that could accommodate a wide array of artifacts and space types, and serve as a bridge between the two structures and the museum’s collection.
A series of specifications and units were designed in-house, as well as the reception desk and gallery seating prototypes. The exhibition furniture is composed of open and closed pedestals, display tables and shelving. The displays reference the form and ornamentation of historic furniture from periods parallel to the museum’s art collection, including early American, European and Asian precedents. These traditions helped establish the pieces’ material palette and proportions, and inspired signature details such as the pedestal base corner and freestanding table leg. At the same time, the simplicity of the form complements artworks from many time periods and stylistic traditions.