Dix Park - City of Raleigh
One of the largest new public park projects in the country, Dix Park is an emerging 308-acre public space in the heart of Raleigh. The land has a layered history - of hunting, gathering, and potential cultivation among Indigenous people, of enslavement at a major plantation, and as the site of the state's first mental health facility. In partnership with experience design firm Cloud Gehshan, Brocade is working with the City of Raleigh to develop a cultural interpretation plan for the park.
Shockoe Bottom Heritage Campus
On a nine-acre swath of land in Richmond's Shockoe Bottom neighborhood, residents, civic leaders, and historians have come together to realize a heritage campus focused on the area's role in the slave trade. In the years before the American Civil War ended, Shockoe Bottom was the second largest slave trading center in the country. In partnership with architecture firm Baskervill, Brocade is supporting both interpretive planning and co-facilitation of public meetings.
Palmer Museum of Art
University Park, PA
As Penn State University prepares to open a new $85M, 71,000-square-foot building for its Palmer Museum of Art, the largest collection of art between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, the Brocade team is advising museum leadership on interpretive strategy. Situated directly adjacent to the university's arboretum, the new building enables enhanced connections to art, nature, and inspiration.
City of Alexandria
In partnership with architecture and planning firm SmithGroup, Brocade is working with the City of Alexandria to provide storytelling and exhibit development support for 1315 Duke Street - presently known as the Freedom House Museum.
August Wilson House
The childhood home of Pulitzer-Prize-winning American playwright August Wilson has now become an arts center, performance venue, and house of history. August Wilson House chose Brocade Studio to guide the interpretive planning. Inspired by Wilson’s non-traditional education in Pittsburgh's Hill District, the Brocade team is mining the goodwill and rich tradition of the arts in Pittsburgh to imagine the visitor and user experience.
National Museum of African-American History and Culture - Smithsonian
District of Columbia
Brocade strategist Toni Wynn gave shape and voice to the permanent Cultural Expressions exhibit. “Gestures of Solidarity" won an American Alliance of Museums text award. Toni has also provided editorial consulting to the museum’s Office of Strategic Partnerships.
Atlanta and Covington, GA
In partnership with architecture firm Baskervill, Brocade worked with Emory University to understand what messages should be conveyed through twin memorials (on Emory's Atlanta and Oxford campuses) that honor individuals who were enslaved by early Emory trustees and faculty.
Visitors to Washington, D.C. are faced with a near-overwhelming multitude of experiences, tours, museums, and collections. The National Archives offers something a bit different — an engagement with specifically-American documents that offer an almost geological view of American history. Brocade partnered with the National Archives Foundation to bring interpretive planning expertise to a broader team working to redesign and upgrade the Archives' permanent exhibition space, theater, and learning center. Our goal was for the Archives to strongly distinguish itself as a trusted site and resource that thinks creatively about American history and how all of us can contribute and connect to it.
The American Civil War Museum
In 2013, the Museum of the Confederacy (MOC) and the American Civil War Center (ACWC) consolidated their operations to create a new organization, The American Civil War Museum (ACWM). The new institution would combine the former MOC's unrivaled collection of Civil War artifacts and scholarship with the ACWC's compelling public programs and spectacular location on the James River at the site of the largest Confederate iron works to become "the preeminent center for the exploration of the American Civil War and its legacies from multiple perspectives".
Brocade partner Madge Bemiss led the architectural programming for a new museum building. She then assisted staff in developing an interpretive plan that addressed audiences, impact, visitor experiences, and interpretive themes. The resulting museum, with its immersive theater experience and site-specific exhibits, opened in spring 2019; the Washington Post noted that it "aims to shatter conventional views of the conflict."
Lewis Latimer House
In anticipation of his 175th birthday, Brocade worked to honor the legacy of Lewis Latimer — the inventor, electrical pioneer, autodidact, painter, poet, and son of enslaved parents who claimed their freedom. A new interpretive plan informed the design of a revised permanent exhibit at the Lewis Latimer House, which seeks to amplify the legacy of Latimer and other inventors and creators of color and exists as a center for STEAM education. The possibilities were particularly exciting given the house’s position in Flushing, a vibrant and changing neighborhood.
Historic Polegreen Church
Known locally as the “ghost church” for its distinctive white beams, Polegreen Church was first erected in 1743 and remains a significant site in the story of American religious freedom. During the subsequent Civil War, the artillery shell of a confederate officer - whose father had been baptized at Polegreen - hit the wooden church, which burned to the ground. The congregation could not afford to rebuild. Almost 150 years later, a compelling open-air structure was erected in its place to commemorate the site’s layered history.
In 2016, the founding generation of leaders at the Historic Polegreen Church Foundation faced a thoroughly modern dilemma: a need to increase the site’s relevancy and expand its community of supporters in order to achieve long-term operational sustainability. The board engaged Brocade Studio to lead a tactical strategic planning effort to help address these issues. Brocade facilitated planning sessions with the board, considering and weighing competing visions for the future. Using the methods of human-centered design, we cast board members as both experts and designers. This, coupled with research on peer sites, their current audience, and a broader market scan, provided rich context for the board to step into the role of designers and devise possible courses of action. A tactical plan emerged that set measurable goals horizons of one, three, and five years to move the foundation through a significant period of transition.
“The whole process was conducted with efficiency, humor,
and excellent insights into our long-term hopes.”
- Jay Johnston, Jr., Board Chair, Polegreen Foundation
Museum at the Gateway Arch
St. Louis, Missouri
Working with a multi-disciplinary team, Toni led a team that developed exhibit text for the 45,000 square foot renovation that opened in summer 2018.
Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia
Built in the 1890’s to house an African-American military battalion, the First Battalion Virginia Volunteers Armory is the oldest African-American armory in Virginia and quite possibly in the United States. When the black militia company who used the armory was disbanded in 1899, the building was turned over to the Richmond School Board to be used as a “school for colored children”. The building served as an elementary school for the next 40 years, until it was adapted during World War II for use as a reception center for servicemen of color.
After a fire in the mid-1980s, the armory stood padlocked until 2002, when a “Save America’s Treasures” grant paid for the stabilization of the building. Again, the building sat empty until 2012 when the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia acquired the building from the school board and began planning for an ambitious renovation of its new home.
Brocade partner Madge Bemiss assisted the initial planning phases for the new museum - outlining the steps forward and helped to develop a strategic plan for the site. Through conversations with stakeholders and community members, the museum redefined its mission and vision.
Today, the Armory is a thriving, central gathering place: welcoming, accessible, collaborative, innovative, relevant and dynamic. It serves as a place for dialogue about identity, race, class, and the nature of freedom.