The completed archway in the Upland fabrication facility

The Magical Science exhibit at Omaha Children’s Museum combined whimsical ideas of magic with surprising and fun applications of modern science. However, they needed an attractive entryway to draw people in and set the tone of the space. So they asked the Upland Exhibits team, including myself, to make a Hogwarts–esque castle entryway that would “magically” react to visitors’ presence using electronics.

Starting with a mood board of arches provided by OCM, I dove into additional research to feed the design process. Creating a highly scenic element featuring interactive components was an intriguing design challenge, and I referenced many historic stone buildings and arches of all types to hone in on the best fit for the project.

Considering the need for the archway to be transported and stored periodically, I devised a set of four identical corner components paired with four arches that could be separated and reassembled. LED rope lights were incorporated to activate when people stepped into the archway like glowing inscriptions in the stone.

I digitally designed the stone layout and masonry, then sculpted the physical pieces with a CNC router. Flat sheet goods were also kerf-cut and bent into the curving surfaces of the arches. Custom curly masonry ties adorned the exterior, accentuating the whimsical look.

LEFT: Drawings for fabrication, CENTER: CNC-carved MDF to look like stones, RIGHT: Setting the cap of one arch onto the corners

Stepping into the archway truly resulted in a magical experience!

Project Management: Jocelyn Wilkinson
Physical Design: Anthony Esau
Fabrication: Dan Miller, Mark Andres, Jocelyn Wilkinson, Anthony Esau
Client: Omaha Children’s Museum