July 29, 2016 • Sara Eagin
Every exhibit design we create is custom to fit the goals and aesthetic of our clients. In the case of Ferguson, the exhibits blend the traditional aesthetics of the lobby with an updated, modern feel while also incorporating Ferguson materials. The lobby’s wood paneling and barrel vault ceiling were designed by former Ferguson President David Peebles, so we copied the lobby’s dentine molding along the sides of our panels as a nod to the corporation’s heritage. Eight-inch, cast-iron pipes frame the sides and tops of each exhibit section while smaller cast-iron pipes and fittings hold the displays on the mobile units. Additional Ferguson materials, such as threaded rods and clips, secure the graphic panels and a range of brackets, clips and other hardware ensure that everything remains securely together.
The Heritage Center is set up in two galleries; the first is broadly chronological and the second highlights Ferguson’s people and community involvement. Each section is offset by the cast-iron pipes and wood structures. Within each of these are 20 to 30 individual photo panels, clipped into the structure. These panels provide the images and text that tell the story of Ferguson’s growth and reach today.
Each exhibit has its own specific requirements and space restrictions. In Ferguson’s case, the space for the Heritage Center is also used for events, such as receptions. This meant that we needed to ensure the space could be cleared out easily for seated dinners, but also not feel empty when visitors explore the exhibit. Featuring mobile units was a logical solution. Each unit showcases artifacts, additional photographs and information about that section of the adjacent wall. The units are nearly 8 feet tall and 6 feet long, but are on wheels.
The history gallery has four of these units. Each locks into one of the structural pillars in the room, partially hiding these supports and filling the space.
Two of the units feature pipe structures to display additional artifacts while the other two feature historical vignettes representing the opening of Ferguson’s showrooms and Xpress Counters. In the community gallery, traditional cases house artifacts about the corporation’s associates and community service.
While most of the exhibit design consists of photographs and graphic panels, we utilize artifacts and reproductions wherever possible to enhance the visitor’s experience and provide tangible authenticity. We also incorporated several original documents on the wall panels among the photographs.
Other artifacts are 3-D and are displayed in custom-built cases, which protect the items from dust and damage from handling. For this exhibit, we have included awards, plaques, letters and other items related to the people and community outreach of Ferguson. Because the cases are situated on a unit (with wheels) that will have to move from time to time, artifacts on display have been secured to the base.
In addition to the mainly static physical displays, Ferguson incorporated two touch screens into the galleries. These features host an interactive timeline of the corporation’s history as well as videos from divisions across the organization. Profiles of nearly all of Ferguson’s acquired companies over the years are searchable and provide additional pertinent content.
Ferguson’s CEO Frank Roach as well as members of the corporation’s marketing and communications teams have shared their positive impressions of the exhibits with The History Factory. Ferguson looks forward to hosting many events and training groups in the space in the near future, ensuring that its associates continue to build on the success of the past as the company continues to grow and expand into the future.