We frequently hear from prospective exhibit clients that they want to work with our talented designers to create a museum-quality headquarters exhibit. While design is a critical component of exhibitry, it is just one component.High-impact exhibits also require historical research, curatorial skills, and the processes and disciplines necessary to deliver a vision—all with a keen focus on what the client is trying to communicate in the space.
HarperCollins sought a world-class exhibit program for its new global headquarters, which occupies five floors of a majestic, century-old building on Broadway in the heart of Lower Manhattan. The newly renovated offices feature a dramatic two-story lobby as well as ample space in hallways, elevator lobbies, conference rooms and other locations to display the company’s historic achievements over its nearly two centuries in publishing.
HarperCollins initially turned to The History Factory for design help, but as a company that understands the power of great storytelling, it appreciated the equally important roles of research, curation and execution in delivering a memorable experience for visitors.
We first helped HarperCollins define the intent of the exhibit within the context of its business strategy. Essentially, the goal of the exhibit was to authenticate HarperCollins as the publisher of choice for authors by illustrating the company’s vast literary heritage and longtime commitment to the author’s cause. The desired outcomes were: to solidify relationships with existing authors, encourage prospective authors to choose HarperCollins, and to build pride and engagement among employees in regard to their contribution to 200 years of literary excellence.
HarperCollins contracted The History Factory with very limited time until move-in. Our team worked quickly to create a plan and define vital exhibit characteristics. We then used message mapping to clearly document the specific stories and experiences to be conveyed across the five floors in accord with the departments occupying each area. The feel would be informal and accessible, the design contemporary, and the exhibits would have a modular component to allow for simple adaptation and updates. Our curators then drew stories and artifacts from almost 200 years of world-changing authors, partnerships and innovations. Complementary designs conveyed the deep and rich character of HarperCollins.
Exhibits featuring renowned authors such as Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Harper Lee, E. B. White, Paul Bowles, C. S. Lewis and Agatha Christie now grace the dramatic lobby and other spaces throughout the office. Historical moments and influential people from HarperCollins’ history are highlighted alongside the latest works by today’s literary geniuses.
Installation was completed within the very aggressive timeline dictated by the move-in date, and the results are nothing less than inspirational. The HarperCollins exhibit serves as a case study of how an exhibit program can be completed on time, on budget and on strategy with a holistic methodology that brings together a client’s business objectives, thoughtfully curated content, exceptional design, quality production and implementation excellence.
Just as HarperCollins continues to publish memorable works, The History Factory continues to support the needs of its client. The History Factory provides HarperCollins with a range of support services, updating exhibit panels as showcased authors produce new works. The success of The History Factory’s exhibit has also inspired additional projects within divisions of HarperCollins Publishers, such as HarperCollins Christian Publishing.