Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
This project represents a total re-design of all galleries at the Yale University Peabody Museum of Natural History. Each gallery showcases the stunning collections of natural and cultural history while celebrating the university’s heritage and leading-edge research.
- Yale University
- Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History
- 44,000 sq. ft.
- Exhibit Design, Graphic Design
- New Haven, CT, USA
- Year Completed
- In Progress
- Current visitation
- Projected visitation post-renovation
The Yale Peabody Museum revitalization is a complete renovation / re-installation of this iconic museum, including its exhibition halls and collections. Comprising more than 40,000 sf and 23 galleries, it is one of the museum’s largest undertakings in its history, all achieved within an aggressive timeline and budget. The project celebrates the institution’s unique research heritage while establishing a new legacy that actively engages with the university’s academic streams.
Galleries will focus on the university’s research and collections, with object-centered displays that feature field work (past and present) and student research. Installations include topical themes that help visitors build a deep understanding of our complex world.
The flexible exhibition system is designed to adapt as science and research advances and as collections are rotated or added. The goal of the reimagined galleries is to regularly redefine the permanent exhibit installations while remaining a vital resource for teaching and visitor engagement.
The design of the galleries, now in development, offers visitors a new and holistic opportunity to explore in depth the heritage building and the collections. The galleries present a fresh new perspective that enables seamless circulation
and abundant spaces for programs, events and educational activities.
The gallery designs feature a tectonic motif of diverse forms that allude to the stratigraphy emblematic of a paleontological landscape.
Prismatic forms are layered with elemental glass, stone and steel volumes that protect and present
The design is driven by Yale’s goal for galleries that are reflective of changing science and the university’s academic heritage, including as a teaching tool for its students. As such, they showcase fundamental scientific themes and spectacular collections, and are always ready for new collections. To achieve this, a modular system of cases and graphic systems is being deployed across all galleries.
To unify, yet distinguish the thematic galleries and diverse topics the design draws from archival research assets to create graphic motifs, imagery and colors. The result is a unique experience for each gallery, highlighting the collections to their best advantage. Specimen images populate the information panels, colors act as a wayfinding element to identify galleries and collection images are reproduced at dramatic scale across walls. A special highlight is Rudolph Zallinger’s world-famous fresco “The Age of Reptiles”, a legacy asset that is one of the most well-known and beloved paleontological murals in the world.
The Zallinger mural depicts the evolutionary history of the earth over more than 300 million years. It is an iconic piece of paleontological art known for its portrayal of prehistoric plants and animals with incredible scientific accuracy (using the best information available at that time) and the noteworthy level of collaboration between the artist and the most preeminent scientists of that day.
In addition, as the final phases of the building architecture run in parallel to the exhibit design, R&P is working with the building architects to shape the interior infrastructure to reflect the needs of the displays and the thematic journey.
The renewed galleries will offer an invigorated, fresh new experience of the Yale Peabody Museum, one of the founding institutions of modern paleontology. Visitors will come to know natural history as relevant and exciting. The galleries will foster connections between students, faculty, and visitors as an educational tool connecting the Museum’s scientists, research, and collections. The exhibits will activate a sense of discovery and curiosity as visitors find their place in the arc of the natural history display. The trailblazing spirit of Yale will redefine the museums of tomorrow.