ML&F, Museum & Library Furniture LLC
Detail of the Gallery Bench, Slat

Ideas and Updates

Center for Civil and Human Rights

I recently had the opportunity to visit the brand new Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. If you haven't been, put it on your list right now. It will move you. In one gallery, stunning footage from the historic 1963 March on Washington moves across a vast curved screen in a darkened oval room. As I looked in, I was especially pleased to see that the wood benches I designed for this gallery attracted people to enter without calling too much attention to themselves. There were simply an invitation to sit and contemplate the drama and meaning of the superb multimedia presentation.


This Center for Civil and Human Rights is a model for how to use multimedia in teaching and commemorating history; sound and video are used in most of the galleries. The center's exhibit designers have used my benches in all of these galleries, but have situated them in different ways so that each gallery feels like a completely different experience from the others.


Seeing my furniture used in this way reminded me that designs for a museum must be neutral in order to be flexible. Furniture for galleries, exhibits and archives must also be tough, solid and subtle. The challenge for the designer is to create pieces that will be harmonious with the museum's interior — neither overwhelming nor boring. Museum professionals require durable furniture that represents the present and, most importantly, supports the institution's educational mission.

Tom Shiner FAIA

Photo of the Center for Civil and Human Rights