The Making of Shipwreck Adventures

Meet the Team Behind Shipwreck Adventures

So many hours of thoughtful planning, design, fabrication and construction go into the creation of a new museum exhibit. And all of that hard work takes a team of talented individuals. Here’s a quick look at the people who are bringing Shipwreck Adventures to life.

The team behind Shipwreck Adventures modeling some of the props and costumes created for the exhibit

Jaclyn Barber, Graphic Designer

How long have you been with the museum? 2 years

What is your role in creating Shipwreck Adventures? I work closely with the exhibit developer and exhibit designer to create and implement a look and feel for the 2D aspects of the exhibit. For Shipwreck, that includes everything from selecting fonts and colors to creating custom textures and illustrations used throughout the exhibit. I also provide art direction for large wall murals and graphics.

Outside of Shipwreck, what has been your favorite museum project? Where else in the museum can we see your work? My first project at MCM was designing for the Aardman exhibit (opening summer 2022), which was a delight. I’m very much looking forward to finishing that project. Lately I’ve worked on graphics and art direction for the Floor is Lava experience.

 


 

Chris Lee, Senior Exhibit Designer

How long have you been with the museum? 7 years

What is your role in creating Shipwreck Adventures? I work with our amazing exhibit developers through the whole creation process – from brainstorming to installation to figuring out what the exhibit will look like when it’s done. Then, as we move into the building phase, I work with our equally amazing fabrication team to answer their questions, make modifications and try to help solve problems with them as they produce and install the exhibits.

Outside of Shipwreck, what has been your favorite museum project? Where else in the museum can we see your work? You can see things I’ve worked on throughout the museum: in galleries like Our World, The Backyard and Tip Top Terrace; the new Spark children’s museum in Rochester; and in our Wild Kratts and upcoming Wallace and Gromit travelling exhibits. And in museums, nature centers and visitor centers across the country. Some of my favorite pieces currently on display are the MishMash Moose in The Backyard, the crawl-thru kaleidoscope at Spark and the interactive octopus arm in Wild Kratts Ocean Adventure.

Read more about Chris’ work on Shipwreck Adventures in this Q&A.

 


 

Patrick McKennan, Exhibit Production Manager

How long have you been with the museum? Almost 3 years

What is your role in creating Shipwreck Adventures? I manage the fabrication crew and the schedule of exhibit fabrication and installation. I forecast expenses, track spending and order materials. And when things are going well, I even get to help build stuff.

Outside of Shipwreck, what has been your favorite museum project? Where else in the museum can we see your work? Cosmic Junkyard was the first project I worked on here. I was hired just as fabrication had commenced, so I got an amazingly quick introduction to the museum world. It was fast paced and stressful, yet wonderful.

 


 

Abbey Nielsen, Exhibit Prop Specialist

How long have you been with the museum? 5 years

What is your role in creating Shipwreck Adventures? I work with all the loose parts, props and costumes. For Shipwreck specifically, I have designed, fabricated and/or sourced the costumes and props for the entire exhibit. I’m also working with the fabrication team on creating the big rock and moss wall.

Outside of Shipwreck, what has been your favorite museum project? Where else in the museum can we see your work? One of my favorite projects that I’ve worked on in the museum is the creation of the costumes in The Backyard. I did the graphic design and fabrication for the grasshopper, ant and butterfly costumes. It is so much fun to see those in use around The Backyard garden!

 


 

Hallie O’Connor, Exhibit Fabricator

How long have you been with the museum? I’ve worked in various jobs, part-time, since 2008.

What is your role in creating Shipwreck Adventures? I’m building the 12-foot high walls that form the cliffs and coves of Lake Superior. I’m also working with the team to create realistic rock faces, washable sensory moss and lichen and creatures that will be discovered through touch and lighting.

Outside of Shipwreck, what has been your favorite museum project? Where else in the museum can we see your work? I enjoyed designing and building the paint house for The Studio. Watching the creative ways visitors interacted with it has been very encouraging; I loved visiting the house to see the newest additions.

 


 

Cameron Olson, Exhibit Fabricator

How long have you been with the museum? Since July 2021. I also worked here last summer from June to August.

What is your role in creating Shipwreck Adventures? I’m a fabricator who does a little bit everything.

Outside of Shipwreck, what has been your favorite museum project? Where else in the museum can we see your work? Last summer, I helped with making an exhibit for the children’s museum in Rochester.

 


 

Julie Prairie, Scenic Painter

How long have you been with the museum? Since January 1995!

What is your role in creating Shipwreck Adventures? Lately I have been focused on doing the rock texture on the cliffs and coves. Then the rocks will need scenic painting, as will most of the other exhibit components. I’ll also be doing some mural painting for the exhibit in the near future.

Outside of Shipwreck, what has been your favorite museum project? Where else in the museum can we see your work? The work I’m most proud of in the museum are the four dioramas in the lobby (“PLAY”) and the diorama in Sprouts. And I’m quite proud of so many murals that were in the previous museum before the remodel.

 


 

Mary Weiland, Senior Exhibit Developer

How long have you been with the museum? 23 years

What is your role in creating Shipwreck Adventures? I develop the concepts and goals for the exhibit, then help turn them into immersive activities and components that playfully engage visitors. I write text for graphics, guide the production of props and costumes and work closely with the exhibit designer to incorporate the goals and objectives into the visitor experience.

Outside of Shipwreck, what has been your favorite museum project? Where else in the museum can we see your work? Forces at Play and Our World.

Read more about Mary’s work on Shipwreck Adventures in this Q&A.

 


 

Ron Wolfe, Exhibit Fabricator

How long have you been with the museum? 12 years

What is your role in creating Shipwreck Adventures? I am fabricating and partially designing the cargo moving areas. I’ll also be fabricating and welding the metal portions of the ship hull.

Outside of Shipwreck, what has been your favorite museum project? Where else in the museum can we see your work? The renovation was an interesting and fun project. Recently, I designed and built the ping pong ball launchers in Forces at Play. I fabricated the lava floors and volcano on the first floor and designed and built the noodle drop in the previous Creativity Jam.

An Exhibit Inspired by the North Shore

Throughout Shipwreck Adventures, visitors will find whimsical interpretations of plants and animals that are found along the north shore of Lake Superior.

A photo of moss and rocks taken by Mary during a trip to Grand Portage. The photo later served as inspiration for rocks and moss found in Shipwreck Adventures.

As you approach the cliffs and coves area, you’ll see patches of touchable moss and lichen on rocks that look like the natural Basaltic rock found on the cliffs of the North Shore. The lichen and moss are made from a variety of fabrics with different textures and shapes, designed and fabricated by the museum’s prop specialist, Abbey Nielsen. Walk inside the cove to see and hear animals of all shapes and sizes tucked in the rocky wall – a taiga alpine butterfly, woodland jumping mouse, blue-spotted salamander and more. The animals are brought to life by local artist Amy Toscani with direction from the exhibit team. A turn of the wheel transforms the cove from day to night, with sunshine replaced by twinkling stars and the sights and sounds of nocturnal animals, such as the northern long-eared bat and a herring gull.

An concept drawing of how visitors might encounter different animals in the cliffs and coves section of the exhibit.

On the opposite side of the exhibit, a playful shoreline with large plants and giant fish commands attention. Visitors carefully move through a patch of oversized grasses as they explore the shoreline under a canopy of cattails and giant leaves. Don’t miss the towering, carnivorous bladderwort plant above as visitors try their hand at helping the plant snack on a tasty bug. The giant plants in this part of the exhibit are based on real plants that grow near Grand Portage in the far northeast corner of the state. Their fragile existence in Minnesota is highly unusual. They survive because of the localized, arctic-like conditions that exist in certain microhabitats along the north shore of Lake Superior.

An early sketch of a giant, interactive bladderwort plant and bug.

As part of the shoreline, a special place for our youngest visitors sits off to one side. Geared toward children under the age of two, the Tot Spot incorporates sensory play and whole-body exploration. Strategically placed seating allows adults to play with their tots and keep an eye on other parts of the exhibit.

As visitors explore the world in Shipwreck Adventures, inspirations of the North Shore can be found at every turn. Keep a close eye out and you never know what you’ll discover.

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