Wilcox Classical Museum

Wilcox Classical Museum, exhibition of designs and prototypes
The re-envisioning of the Wilcox Classical Museum has the goal to broaden the mission and audience of the Museum, located in historic Lippincott Hall. Part of KU’s rich early cultural heritage, the Museum’s new charge will be conducive to the University’s instructional role and to its function as a public forum for ideas that impact society as a whole. In Spring 2021, Dirt Works Studio had the honor to work with the Wilcox Classical Museum and its curator on the research, design, and prototyping of an exhibition design for the anticipated future renovation of the museum in Lippincott Hall. Dirt Works Studio, organized into two teams, developed two proposals and a final exhibition. Acting as catalysts for reimagining the museum, its plaster casts of the Parthenon Frieze would be presented in their entirety, and shown with color, since the originals would have been brightly painted.

Scheme A: The frieze’s 58-foot length exceeds the longest dimension of the gallery; therefore, the frieze is placed at an angle above the new space. This has the added benefit of encouraging oblique views of the frieze and elevating it to a height that approximates the original context. Another tenet of the proposed design aims to open up the museum to the greatest degree possible, including the removal of the secondary perimeter walls that currently block the existing historic windows and exterior envelope, and removing the wall that separates the antiquities room from the gallery. Other elements are kept to a minimum and used to facilitate movement through the space, with a rammed earth and hackberry seminar table and a rammed earth “columbarium” wall serving as a central anchor.

Scheme B: In the second scheme, the frieze is treated similarly, but instead of an open concept, a series of double sided display cases divide the space into smaller, more intimate areas, with additional display along the perimeter. The columbarium is flanked on both sides by rammed earth elements that speak to the archeological atmosphere of the space. Flexible use patterns are facilitated by discrete storage within the display case wall, including a set of seminar tables that can slide beneath the display cases.

Year: 2021
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
Course: Arch 509 Designbuild Studio
Instructor: Chad Kraus (Dirt Works Studio)

Students: Olivia Bolton, Anna DePastino, Joseph Dierckes, Austin Eikermann, Ana Fries Von Muhlen, Sam Haney, Madison Karlin, Piero Martinez, Jose Moreno, Thomas Padgett, Matthew Schwartz, Kathryn Smithson, Yizhu Sun, Eligah Thomas, Rachel Vitt, Ke Wu

Partner/Client: KU Classics and the Wilcox Classical Museum