As the only architectural firm in the country specializing exclusively in the planning and design of
For more than thirty-five years, Verner Johnson, Inc. has been helping our clients plan and design innovative and successful museums. With more than 200 projects in our portfolio, we have planned or designed more museums than any other architectural firm. Our projects have included every type of museum, and have ranged in size from 7,500 to 1,250,000 square feet. Our intern
ational work includes projects in Europe, Hong Kong, China, India, Dubai, New Zealand, South America, and the Caribbean, with clients including the Smithsonian Institution, for whom we provided planning and design services for over 20 years, the Louvre Museum in Paris, and the Urban Council in Hong Kong. Recently, we have pursued several museum projects in India and Turkey. A History of Innovation
The breadth and depth of our experience has given us a detailed understanding about how museums really work. We apply this constantly evolving knowledge to the planning and design of each new project and have consistently helped our clients achieve innovative solutions to the issues they face. Consequently, many of the museums that we have planned and designed are among the most successful and highly attended in the world. With projects in our portfolio ranging from expansion projects for regional museums to a complete reorganization plan for the Louvre Museum in Paris, our museum expertise is recognized around the world. Our Staff
Our careers are dedicated to serving the needs of museums. We maintain our staff size at approximately 10 professionals in our Boston office and 8 employees in our Istanbul location. This allows our Principals to be thoroughly involved in each project throughout all phases. We are large enough to handle any size museum project, but small enough to provide personalized service. Our turnover rate has been extremely low, resulting in a highly experienced professional staff with an average of 16 years of museum experience. Within our firm, museological specializations include areas such as collections storage and care, exhibition lighting, living exhibits, large format theaters, and media and technology. Harvard and MIT Connection
Currently, four of our key staff members have received their Masters degrees from Harvard University and one has received a degree from MIT.
Verner Johnson's National Infantry Museum was named "Best Free Museum" in America. Read more about the celebration here!
National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center voted “Best Free Museum” in America out of 20 world-class museums in USA Today Readers’ Choice competition
VJI has been selected as one of the 13 finalists out of 66 submissions for a new art museum in Beirut, Lebanon!
Jonathan Kharfen of VernerJohnson will be speaking about the story behind the design process of Museum at Prairiefire on April 25th for Science Happy Hour. Read more about the event and purchase tickets here!
"If you build it, they will come."
The Art Newspaper examines the positive difference that museum expansions have on their attendance.
Read the article here:
We're happy to present our new website, where you will find our newly announced work and updated information on our current and recent projects. We hope you find our new look to be more dynamic and easy to use!
Congratulations to Lian Davis of Verner Johnson, Inc. on winning the Emerging Designer Alumni Award from the Boston Architectural College! See Lian's recognition and the other awards here.
It was a special Veterans Day celebration at the National Infantry Museum. Veterans came for the paver dedication ceremony and the Museum held a mini-camp for youth in the area. Read more about the events here!
Prairiefire was recently featured in Urban Land Magazine! Read the article here!
In a unique collaboration, the American Museum of Natural History brings its traveling exhibits to a new development in Overland Park, Kansas.
Retired General Stanley McChrystal shares his experience of being "floored" by his first visit at the National Infantry Museum. Read more here!
Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal toured the National Infantry Museum for the first time last month.
Comprehensive planning for the Alabama Firefighters Museum is taking off! Read more about this and the story behind the museum here.
In 2010, J.D. King decided to donate his collection of fire fighting ...
Congratulations to the National Infantry Museum on being inducted into TripAdvisor's Hall of Fame! Read more about it here.
The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center is proud to announce its induction into TripAdvisor's Hall of Fame for 2015. The award, offered for the first time this year, recognizes businesses a...
Exciting news! Verner Johnson has been hired as the architect for the Alabama Firefighters Museum facility's comprehensive plan!
The Shelby County Commission on Tuesday night approved a $90,000 payment to the Alabama Firefighters Museum and Education Center Foundation aimed at helping in the development of the new institution in Calera. The Shelby County Commission approved the $90,000 in...
The Tubman Museum had its grand opening on May 16th! Read and watch clips about the Museum's history and plans for the new building!
The grand opening of the new Tubman museum is Saturday.
Bollywood Museum, featured today in both the Times of India and the Mumbai Mirror, is to be "put on the fast-track"!
Government officials met and discussed the importance of this museum to the city of Mumbai and are working to move forward with the project. Read more here!
Exciting news! The Museum at Prairiefire won an Architecture Podium International Architecture award in the "Cultural Built" category. Read more about it and see pictures here!
Another Prairiefire recognition! The Museum received Honorable Mention in the Public Building Built category of the Re-Thinking the Future international sustainability awards!
Museum at Prairiefire recently received the judges' choice award through the Associated General Contractors of Kansas in the annual building awards competition!
You can swipe to read the next article. Swipe Swipe Friday, January 30, 2015, 2:15pm CST Slideshow: Overland Park museum captures top honors at contractors' convention in Wichita Josh Heck Wichita Business Journal View Slideshow Judges' Choice: Museum at Prairiefire Category: New construction - over…
The National Infantry Museum has been featured in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, being called "one of America's hidden national treasures."
You can swipe to read the next article. Swipe Swipe Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 1:51pm EST Georgia's hidden national treasure: The National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center (SLIDESHOW) Phil W. Hudson Atlanta Business Chronicle Fort Benning, also known as the Home of the Infantry, is also the home o…
Great Lakes Science Center will be showing the film "Interstellar" starting today at 6pm! "Thursday screenings will feature an introduction and Q&A session afterwards from a local scientist on a science topic related to the film." Today's speaker will be Dr. George R. Schmidt, Chief of Propulsion Division at NASA Glenn Research Center, discussing Thoughts on the Engineering and Science of Interstellar. Get your tickets now at the box office or online (link below)!
Hear historical artist Rick Reeves speak about pirate imagery at the Tampa Bay History on January 14th, 6-7pm! It is free to the public and works well as an introduction to "The Art of Piracy: Pirates in Modern Culture" exhibition, opening on January 24th!
Pirates have been around as long as there have been boats. They ruled the Mediterranean Sea before the pharaohs ruled Egypt or even thought about building the pyramids. Julius Caesar was captured by them and held for ransom. Yet, contrary to either current belief or Hollywood hype, they did play an…
Pre-order your tickets now for "Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition" at Discovery Park of America! This exhibit will be open from January 31st to May 2nd, 2015!
JANUARY 31ST - MAY 2ND
"PLAY with animals in a realistic habitat at the Stream. OBSERVE the sights and sounds of the Meadow. PRETEND to be an eagle, chipmunk and raccoon in the Woods. EXPLORE the unfamiliar environment of the cave. INVESTIGATE specimens from the natural world in the Naturalists' Tent."
Be sure to check out the "Animal Secrets" exhibit at Flint Hills Discovery Center before it closes on January 14th!
The Flint Hills Discovery Center provides an educational experience for the entire family. Visit the museum if you are passing through the Manhattan, Kansas area.
Exciting event coming up at Discovery Park of America on January 10th!
Overland Park, Kansas
Role: Architect & Museum Planner for New Museum, Led team of Engineers and Museum Specialists
Client: Merrill Companies, LLC
Program: Changing exhibition gallery, children's discovery room, lobby, cafe, gift shop, function space, classrooms, exhibit support, and offices
Building Area: 41,000 sf
Status: Opened in Spring of 2014
LEED Siver anticipated
Description: The building concept is designed to reflect the imagery of the tallgrass prairie, including one of its most unique aspects: the prairie fire burns. The expansive lobby is enclosed by ‘lines of fire’, facetted vertical planes composed of tinted vision glazing, dichroic glass, and iridescent stainless steel panels, set in a composition invoking flames. The dichroic glass and iridescent stainless steel are color shifting depending on the viewing, creating a vibrant animated glow of color around the building. The lobby connects two building wings set at angles in the site to create a plaza at the northeast entry side and protected terraces at the west park side. These wings are stone clad with contoured parapets evoking the softly curving sculpted hills of the prairie. The stratified stone forms a gradient, from darker ‘charred’ stone at the base, to near white stone at the parapet. The entry plaza and park side terraces are paved in dark stone and edged in dichroic illuminated with LED lighting to recall the singed ground and fire lines seen during the prairie burns.
Visitors enter a tall, colorful lobby space, accessible on two levels, with natural light streaming through the perimeter tinted and dichroic glass. From the lobby, visitors can explore the AMNH changing exhibits and the T-Rex exhibit located near the main entrance. They can wind their way from the north side of the lobby to the south side facing the wetlands, stopping at the Museum Gift Shop along the way, and ending at the Café, with park views. Across from the Store is the elevator and stair connecting to the second floor. Visitors arrive on a sculpted bridge connecting the two main building volumes. The bridge leads to the Discovery Room, which opens to a cantilevered stone balcony facing the park, providing a unique contained educational outdoor space for children. The opposite direction from the bridge leads to dividable Classrooms and restrooms, and access to the Administrative Offices. The Classrooms and Offices open to the east onto a green roof terrace, which can provide further opportunities for educational exhibits or programs.
Role: Museum Planner and Conceptual Designer for Museum Renovations; Led team of specialist museum consultants;
Program: Art galleries, collection storage, auditorium, library, lobby, cafe, gift shop, function spaces, classrooms, exhibit support, and offices
Building Area: 130,000 sf
Status: In fundraising stage, scheduled to begin construction in 2015
Description: Verner Johnson, along with museum gallery and lighting designers George Sexton Associates, audience evaluator Kathleen Tinworth, and economic sustainability analyst Elaine Carmichael, worked with the Columbia Museum of Art to develop a Comprehensive Master Plan that addresses issues of financial sustainability and facility functionality. The Plan, which was driven by institutional needs and goals, visitor surveys and stakeholder interviews, presents strategies to attract visitors and improve their experience, highlight and engage the collection, expand the successful educational program, enhance event/rental opportunities, and increase revenue streams to improve overall financial health.
The phased Plan seeks to engage Main Street with a new entrance, banners, clear glass, the expansion of the Museum shop and the addition of a cafe, which extends to the sidewalk and terrace with exterior seating. The visitor experience will be improved with better wayfinding, including a new open stair that places visitors at the entrance to the second floor permanent galleries. Gallery space will be expanded, allowing for flexibility and multiple shows in the temporary galleries and display of more of the collection in the permanent galleries. The library, auditorium and educational programming will be expanded and relocated to the lower level opening the first floor for gallery, retail and event functions. Dedicated event space will be added on the first and second floors providing the opportunity for simultaneous events and increased revenue. By completing the Plan in phases rather than all at once, the Museum will be able to fulfill its goals and manage its capital resources while minimizing operational disruption.
Union City, Tennessee
Role: Architect & Museum Planner for New Museum; Led team of engineers and specialist consultants; Lead team of Exhibit Designers (Thinc Design) and Fabricators (Maltbie)
Program: Interactive science, history and art exhibits (60,000 sf), theaters, lobby, cafe, gift shop, function space, classrooms, exhibit support, and offices
Building Area: 100,000 sf
Status: Opened in November of 2013
Description: Located in a lush 50-acre park at the edge of a small rural town in western Tennessee, the new Discovery Center has become a landmark that is completely unexpected in its context. Its white curving forms and soaring tower can be seen from miles away in the flat farmlands that surround it, especially when illuminated at night.
The 200-foot tall observation tower offers a unique perspective from within the Museum to the world beyond the region, inspiring visitors to “look beyond” the constraints of their own lives to what is possible. With its multi-story atriums filled with dinosaurs, airplanes and a giant climb-through fisherman sculpture, families feel both welcomed and engaged.
A curved glass oval-shaped space offer open vistas from the surrounding park into the exhibit atrium. Designed using flowing organic curves silhouetted against the blue sky and green park space, the architecture takes on many playful and mysterious connotations that suggest a place filled with adventure and exploration.
This new educational and entertainment complex offers learning and recreational experiences rarely available outside of urban areas. The Center’s nine exhibition galleries interpret topics as diverse as natural history, regional history, space science, alternative energy, military history, and Native American cultures. Signature exhibits include an earthquake simulator, an interactive starship, and a secret vault that houses treasures from around the globe. A children’s exploration area features a giant climb-through human body, water play, and building block activities.
Role: Architect & Museum Planner for Renovated and Expanded Museum; led team of engineers and specialist consultants
Program: Interactive science, history and art exhibits, lobby, cafe, gift shop, collections storage, classrooms, function spaces, support and offices
Status: Opened in phases: 2007 & 2012
Description: The MIT Museum presented several particularly complex challenges. The existing warehouse building suffered from serious humidity and temperature control issues, poor collection storage areas, a limited amount of exhibit space, and a minimal connection to street level. Working closely with the Museum staff, we established a multi-phase strategy which allows the Museum to develop and expand their building as funding becomes available. The first phase of work created an inviting exhibit space on the street level, and established a strong presence on the street by opening up the facade with large windows. This exhibit space meets MIT's specific needs as flexible multi-use space, incorporating a multimedia presentation area, changing exhibit gallery, a new entry and ticket area, and a relocated and newly designed museum store. The Museum saw a 50% growth in attendance and a 400% growth in retail sales once this phase was complete.
This allowed funding to be available for Phase II, a 150 year anniversary gallery on the second floor, and Phase III, a new photography gallery in a portion of the building located within an un-insulated solid masonry envelope. To achieve the required museum standard climate control for photography, VernerJohnson developed a unique and cost effective "superwall" enclosure within the existing structure that allows temperature and humidity control within the space but enables the exterior wall to breathe and not suffer any damage.
Role: Architect & Museum Planner for New Museum; led team of engineers and specialist consultants; led team of Exhibit Designers (Hilferty & Associates)
Program: Interactive science & history exhibits, 4D theater, lobby, cafe, gift shop, function space, classrooms, exhibit support, and offices
Building Area: 35,000 sf
Status: Opened in 2012
Description: VernerJohnson developed a Comprehensive Master Plan for the Flint Hills Discovery Center that will inspire people to celebrate, explore, and care for the Flint Hills Prairie of Kansas. Our consultant team provided clear programmatic and financial guidelines that ensure that the new Discovery Center is sustainable and meets the needs of the community. The Architectural and Interpretive Concepts provided the City of Manhattan with a platform from which they could garner support and funding for the project. Since that initial planning phase, VernerJohnson and exhibit designers Hilferty and Associates were hired to implement the building, site, and exhibit design for this unique destination.
Inspired by the Museum’s mission and its location, we designed a building sculpted from the natural landscape itself - a series of landscaped terraces transition effortlessly into a limestone and glass museum that emerges organically from the park. For the exterior of the building, we chose various types of limestone for their color and texture to create unique patterns on the surface of the building, while the undulating walls echo the natural shapes of the prairie and helps the building to further meld with its natural surroundings. Since opening to the public in April of 2012, this Museum has already exceeded attendance expectations. It features interactive science and history exhibits, an immersion theater and other educational components as a part of a fully integrated visitor experience.
Baton Rouge, LA
Role: Museum Planner & Conceptual Designer for Museum Renovation and Expansion; Collaborated with Exhibit Designers (Ralph Applebaum Associates)
Program: Interactive science and art exhibits, collection storage, theaters, lobby, cafe, gift shop, function space, classrooms, exhibit support, and offices
Building Area: Renovated areas 56,000 sf Expansion areas 28,000 sf
Status: Awaiting funding
Description: Our work for the Louisiana Art and Science Museum illustrates the fundamental building block in planning that determines the core concept of a new project based on its functionality, appeal and sustainability.
The Louisiana Art and Science Museum (LASM) is housed in a renovated and expanded historic railroad station in Louisiana’s capital city of Baton Rouge. The Museum’s permanent collection of over 4,000 objects is varied, with holdings in the areas of Louisiana Modern and Contemporary Art, American and European Art, Graphic Arts, Decorative Arts, Photography, Ethnographic Art, Antiquities, Scientific Objects and Memorabilia. The Museum’s education and entertainment programs are enhanced by a state-of-the-art planetarium and space theater. Much of the Museum’s gallery space is used for high-quality changing exhibitions. LASM is a very popular and well-run institution that is loved by its community.
The Museum occupies a compelling and strategically positioned site along the Mississippi River. Recent renovations to the Old State Capital and the dramatic new Shaw Center gave LASM the opportunity to increase its role as an important riverfront hub for Baton Rouge’s cultural corridor. Acting on the desire to enhance its programs and brand, LASM engaged our museum planning services. Ralph Applebaum Associates, a firm specializing in interpretive and exhibit design, joined the project team. Together, we engaged the Museum’s key stakeholders in a series of workshops with the goal of seamlessly integrating a new vision for the Museum.
The result is a concept that facilitates the connection between art and science and invites visitor participation, discussion and inquiry. A grand atrium space along the riverfront will be transformed by sunlight and sky colors. The promenade/terrace, with selected public and private views, will maintain connections to the natural and built environment. While deferential to the historic context of the site and city fabric, our bold expression for the building’s facade will re-affirm LASM’s reputation as the vibrant host of a dynamic, energized cultural destination.
Role: Architect for Renovation and Historic Preservation; led team of engineers and specialist consultants
Program: Multi-media presentation in a renovated historic rotunda, transforming its use as a special events space and exhibit area, including adjacent lobby and support areas
Building Area: 10,000 sf
Status: Opened in 2008
Description: This project included the renovations of Franklin Hall and the main entrance foyer space, Jordan Hall. Franklin Hall, a National Memorial housing a 30 ton marble statue of Benjamin Franklin, is modeled after the Roman Pantheon. All existing surfaces – marble, bronze and acoustical plaster - were cleaned and restored to conservation standards. New dramatic lighting was introduced, providing ultimate flexibility for lighting the memorial, creating special exhibit effects, and for rental events. We re-introduced controlled natural lighting into Franklin Hall and provided acoustical surfaces, critical for the new exhibit multi-media show and the well-functioning use of the Hall for banquets and lectures.
Centro Criollo de Ciencia y Tecnologia del Caribe (c3Tech)
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Role: Design Architect & Museum Planner for New Museum; Collaborated with CSA, Puerto Rico-based architects and engineers, as well as Liberty Science Center's exhibit design team
Program: Interactive science exhibits, theaters, lobby, cafe, gift shop, function spaces, green roof, classrooms, exhibit support, and offices
Building Area: 50,000 sf
Status: Opened in 2010
Description: C3Tech is Puerto Rico’s first science center. VernerJohnson totally transformed an abandoned Sears building in Caguas, Puerto Rico and re-energizing an entire downtown block. It includes both a new Museum facility and a new theater structure (connected to each other by an enclosed bridge), as well as a new heavily planted public park area.
Sustainability is a large part of both the Museum’s mission and the subject matter for the exhibits and thus this Museum was designed to be the first LEED accredited Museum in Puerto Rico with its extensive re-use of the existing structures, the incorporation of a green roof (to reduce the heatisland effect and for storm water collection/re-use), and the use of solar panels and wind turbines (for both demonstration and energy). The exhibits are also focused on sustainability - how to sustain one’s individual health, how to live sustainably on the island, and how we all should love sustainably on the planet.
Role: Architect & Museum Planner for New Museum; Led team of engineers and specialist consultants; collaborated with exhibit designers (Christopher Chadbourne)
Program: Interactive history exhibits, theaters, lobby, cafe, gift shop, library, collections, function space, classrooms, exhibit support, and offices
Building Area: 63,000 sf
Status: Opened in 2009
Description: The Tampa Bay History Center is located on a waterfront site in downtown Tampa positioned along the southern end of a two-mile long pedestrian riverwalk that connects many of the museums and cultural facilities in the city. The new museum tells the rich history of the Tampa region through immersive and interactive exhibits and theaters, designed by Christopher Chadbourne and Associates. The building is also designed to help draw together the diverse cultures and communities in the region through dramatic interior and exterior gathering and function spaces. The multi-level atrium lobby is filled with suspended colorful exhibit "icons" representing Tampa's history and culture.
141 Cambridge Street
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Other Museums in Boston
Mount Vernon Street
Location: St. Augustine, FL
Architect: Verner Johnson, Inc.
Design Firm: Ralph Applebaum Associates
Location: St. Augustine, FL
Architect: Verner Johnson, Inc.
Design Firm: Ralph Applebaum Associates
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