20 Years / 20 Projects

January 11, 2020

G&A was established in late 1999 when Patrick Gallagher and a team of five talented designers set out with a vision to become the best in the industry. Many late nights, fueled by laughter and youthful determination, grew into friendships and a shared drive to develop the next world-class experience, and then the next, and then the next… 

Years became decades. A team that fit into a single room expanded to over 120 people in four studios located in major cities across the world. Now, 20 years later, with nearly 700 projects completed in over 30 states and 18 countries, we look back to where it all began. 

It’s almost impossible to pick just 20 projects to highlight, but we tried our best. The following are some of the most pivotal, award-winning, change-making, ground-shifting projects from our 20-years Making History, Together.

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Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals | September 1997

The Hope Diamond, one of the most prized jewels on earth, is among the 2,500 treasures showcased in the 20,000-square-foot Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals. When G&A began working with the Smithsonian Institution team to redesign the exhibit, it was the most ambitious exhibition renovation project in Smithsonian’s history. It was also the first project our team completed together, as the firm formerly known as Douglas|Gallagher. The exhibit’s innovative approach, including its thematically organized content, has firmly established it as one of the Museum’s most long-standing, popular exhibitions. 

International Spy Museum

Our first official project. The original International Spy Museum, designed, planned and launched by G&A, was the first of its kind—a museum experience that blurred the lines between education and entertainment, and the first self-sustaining museum built on earned-income sources. So successful, in fact, an expansion of the Museum opened in May 2019 in a new state-of-the-art 140,000 sq. ft. building. So far, the new Museum has far exceeded visitation projections. Read more.

National World War II Museum

Beginning in 2004, G&A has worked closely with the Museum team to reposition a small, regional museum into the National World War II Museum—an international destination experience. Over the past 15+ years, our collaboration has firmly established the Museum complex as a leading institution dedicated to educating visitors on the sacrifices made by those who fought for American freedom. The G&A-designed Louisiana Memorial Pavilion, Campaigns Pavillion, U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center, and the Liberation Pavillion (coming in 2021) has ensured the Museum’s frequent position as one of the top museums in the nation and the world according to TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards. Read more.

G&A worked with the Foundation for the National Archives and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to create the “National Archives Experience.” The decade-long collaboration resulted in a renewed visitor experience, including innovative interactive exhibits, a learning center, theater, and a digital visitor orientation lobby. The project’s success marked the beginning of G&A’s long-standing collaborative partnership with the NARA, which has resulted in G&A’s work on 9 presidential libraries over the past 15 years. Read more.

The launch of our international project work. The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) honors the service, achievements and sacrifice of United States Armed Forces through memorials all over the world. G&A helped the ABMC realize its vision with the design of the Normandy American Cemetery Interpretive Visitor Center as well as the ABMC Honolulu Memorial and the Pointe du Hoc Interpretive Experience. Our collaboration also included a Graphic Standards Manual that is used at 24 global sites for print materials, website, signage elements, and presentations. Read more.

The G&A-designed Museum and Visitor Center marked the first public-private joint venture in the U.S. between the National Park Service (NPS) and a private sector Foundation. Working with the NPS and the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation, as the interpretive and design leader for the project, G&A created an interpretive experience that broadly introduces the causes, course and consequences of the Civil War to the Park’s 1.5 million annual visitors. Innovative interpretive formats, such as interactive, theatrical and cinematic experiences, introduce contemporary relevance to the Battlefield’s tremendous historical significance. Read more.

When work began, Sant Ocean Hall was the largest renovation in the Smithsonian Institution’s history and a transformation of the Museum’s largest exhibition space. When it first opened, Edward Rothstein of The New York Times wrote, “So much can be learned here, and the new model of the museum is so well integrated with the valuable parts of the old that the Ocean Hall makes the sea change in museum life look promising.” Today, the Hall continues to immerse visitors in the wonderment and fascination with life, from the sunlit zone all the way to the depth of the ocean. For over ten years, it continues to provide a critical space to build empathy and awareness around ocean conservancy and humanity’s impact on oceanic life.

Bringing music to life. The G&A team worked closely with the GRAMMY organization and Recording Academy, as well as the Museum team, to develop educational exhibits that go beyond today’s entertainment industry to touch on music history, the creative and technical music-making process, and the business of music. Opened during the height of the iPod, the Museum’s exhibits transcend the standards of personal technology by encouraging communal interaction as well as individual experiences. The Museum model proved so successful that it led to the development of the G&A-designed GRAMMY Museum Mississippi—which, by 2018, has placed Cleveland, Mississippi on the music tourism map by attracting 80,000 visitors from every state and 37 foreign countries. Read more

Our first major brand experience. As the capstone to Coca-Cola’s 125th anniversary, the company relocated its prized secret formula to a G&A-designed exhibit within the World of Coca Cola: the Vault of the Secret Formula. Phil Mooney, Director of Archives, The Coca-Cola Company, shared, “The move of the Coca-Cola secret formula is a historic moment. The Company has always gone to great lengths to protect it and now by safeguarding it at the World of Coca-Cola, we can share its legendary legacy with people around the world.” The innovative design incorporated careful research and innovative technology to ensure the experience resonates for generations of Coca-Cola guests and stakeholders. Read more.

The Mob Museum, a world-class destination in downtown Las Vegas, provides an interactive journey through true stories of organized crime and law enforcement. G&A worked closely with the client team from the project’s conception through opening, in addition to designing the recently opened speakeasy lounge and live distillery. The Museum currently operates as a financially independent and self-sustaining organization that contributes significantly to the growth and vibrancy of downtown Las Vegas. Since its opening, attendance has grown to over 375,000 annually with visitors hailing from all 50 states and 35 countries. For the past two years, the Museum has been ranked among the top twenty in the country by TripAdvisor.

Redefining how we relate to natural history. The Nature Lab experience, designed by G&A, offers a detailed look into the urban ecosystems and the creatures that live in our cities and communities. Integrated into the Lab, G&A conceptualized customizable social media solutions to inspire children and adults to participate in an ongoing research initiative. Called “Citizen Science,” it became a first-of-its-kind system to incorporate the internet. By creatively enhancing science education with appropriate technology, G&A was able to set a new precedent for 21st century museum interpretation.

Gallery One, Cleveland Museum of Art

For Gallery One at the Cleveland Museum of Art, G&A established a strategic master plan and exhibition design, in collaboration with our media partner, to forever transform the way people experience art museums. By incorporating digital interactivity into a traditional gallery experience, people can connect with the collection in a way that truly resonates. The project won a 2013 SEGD Honor Award. According to a juror’s comments, “The project represents a breakthrough in its use of interactivity within the art museum space. Digital access to collections allows for thoughtful exploration, discovery, and play, without disrupting the generally contemplative experience.” Read more.

The College Football Hall of Fame is one of the most socially interactive sports museums in the country. Interviews, research, and message-testing helped G&A transform and expand the college football story, and by prototyping with Cloud and RFID technology, produce an experience where visitors create, personalize, and share content before, during, and after their visit. These connections and shared experiences are used to create a dialogue between the visitors and the Hall of Fame itself. At the close of 2019, G&A delivered a new immersive media installation and brand activation for Kia Motors: the Performance Challenge. Learn more.

In its new, historic location, the National Gallery Singapore is the largest visual arts venue in the region. G&A designed the Gallery’s 75,350 sq. ft. permanent exhibition space to reflect Singapore’s unique heritage and geographical location, providing visitors with a fuller picture of the country’s social, economic and political histories. In addition, G&A worked closely with the client team to design the Keppel Centre for Art Education—the first dedicated art education facility in the surrounding region and recipient of the 2018 Children in Museums Award. Read more.

Envisioning environments where storms loom overhead in an active sky to flying pterodactyls, the G&A-designed exhibits transform science into a multisensory and immersive exploration. In 2017, the Museum won the prestigious IDCA award for Best Scenography. Marise McDermott, President and CEO, shared, “We are grateful for the outstanding designers at Gallagher & Associates who worked with powerful partners, including Lake Flato Architects to bring the New Witte to reality. This award underscores the top tier status of the Witte Museum.” Read more.

Take A Stand Center, Illinois Holocaust Museum

The Museum’s Take a Stand Center puts first-hand stories of Holocaust survivors at the core of an inspiring “call to action” for visitors of all ages. The USC Shoah Foundation created high-definition holographic interview recordings of Holocaust survivors, and G&A was the first exhibit design firm to incorporate them into a museum experience—designing the essential context before and after the holographic theater experience to render it relevant and inspiring to visitors. The groundbreaking experience is the next closest thing to speaking to a Holocaust survivor in person, guaranteeing human connections will live on long after these important people have passed. Read more.

The Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience

The MAX captures the essence of Mississippi’s legacy in the arts and celebrates the richness and depth of that legacy and the Mississippians who created it. G&A took the approach of designing a fully immersive, themed environment where visitors do not come to view art—they are invited into the life of the artist at the moment of creation. The Writers’ Studio Experience, a highlight digital interactive experience designed by G&A, received a 2019 SEGD Global Design Award, Honor Award for best Digital Experience Content. The Museum also received the Communicating the Arts Grands Prix Award for Exhibition Design. Read more.

Chicago Architecture Center

G&A worked closely with the client team within a historic Mies van der Rohe skyscraper to develop this world-class destination and gateway for tourists, architecture-enthusiasts, practitioners and students to discover the marvel that is Chicago’s architecture landscape and legacy. The Center features spaces dedicated to tour orientation, design education, public programming, a gift shop, and exhibits. Since opening, the Center has become what Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel calls a “center of conversation more important, more imperative than ever before.” Read more.

Sazerac House

G&A partnered with the Sazerac Co. to create the Sazerac House, an experience that redefines what a brand, a drink, and a distillery can do when married with a historic city, a spirited culture, and an intoxicating story. G&A artfully integrates exhibit design, media and interactives with the historic architecture to trace the origins of cocktail culture back to its birthplace. The exhibits transport visitors to places where ingredients are harvested, liquor is created, and drinks are served. Read more.

US Olympic & Paralympic Museum

Eight years ago, G&A’s strategic planning team delivered a feasibility study and conceptual plan to set the vision for a new destination in Colorado Springs, Colorado that will celebrate the U.S.’ involvement in the Olympic & Paralympic Games. Bridging downtown Colorado Springs to the east and the new America the Beautiful Park to the west, the new US Olympic & Paralympic Museum opens in the Spring of 2020. Early conceptual designs provided by G&A informed Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s story-led architectural design approach—a dramatic contrapposto form with an interior that spirals through a sequence of galleries connected by a central light-filled atrium. Inside, 20,000-square-feet of interactive, universally-designed exhibits immerse visitors in the thrill of the games. The experience will forever change people’s perception and appreciation for the dedication, motivation, determination, and sacrifice all Olympians and Paralympians share. Read more.