Central core at night. Photography: ©Bruce Van Inwegen

Spurlock Museum of World Cultures

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Area: 52,000 square feet

Site & Program: The site is a transitional location between the University and surrounding community. The museum preserves and exhibits 30,000 artifacts from around the world in six galleries. The Spurlock Museum aims to improve each visitor’s understanding of themselves and the world in which they live.

Design: Nagle Hartray organized galleries into connected pavilions arranged around a Central Core that defines common cultural themes.

The Core is a reference point to visitors as they circulate between galleries. Galleries are essentially open boxes for flexibility in arranging exhibits.

The challenge of exterior design was to comply with design guidelines based on the University’s historic Georgian architecture and at the same time express the museum’s multicultural mission. Nagle Hartray developed brick patterns based on cultural ornament illustrated in Owen Jones’ Grammar of Ornament. The patterns define a base on the building, add interest to what is by necessity a windowless building, and express the museum’s identity within narrowly focused design guidelines.

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