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Filmmaker Justinian Jampol Talks New Natural History Museum Exhibit, 'Becoming L.A.'

October 31, 2013

The Hollywood Reporter invited the founder-director of the Wende Museum, Justinian Jampol, for a walk-through of the Becoming Los Angeles exhibit at the Natural History Museum. Read the full article here.

During their walkthrough they stopped and noticed a moment in the exhibit. Here is the discussion:

"Look at this (two hexagonal cases with antique rifles facing away from one another). This reminds me of Jeff Koons' vacuum cleaners. It’s a really complicated, possibly overcomplicated way to display these two guns. Do you think that was the thinking there -- that you can’t just have a wall of guns? You are constantly competing with a kid's ability to be drawn to something.

And the aesthetic of it is quite artistic. There is no practical point for it to be like this. The reaction to that sort of competition has been for so many museums to do this video/digital/multimedia kind of thing. But they’re always going to lose that fight. Because your interactive module at the museum is never going to be able to compete with the array of digital interactive media in people’s lives. I actually like the fact that they play that down here. I’m not against the use of multimedia in the museum. But I think there was a time where it was like the wave of the future and everything was touch screens, stuff like that. I like to see an installation like these guns there – that’s a cool sculpture."

We really appreciate the compliment. And wanted to take this opportunity to share the thinking behind this little exhibit with some sketches.

This first sketch shows the traditional method for presenting this idea. As Justinian Jampol puts it "...your mind would immediately go to thoughts of flea markets, of junk, garages and attics. And nobody wants to be what the Smithsonian was condemned as being -- like America’s attic." For the design of Becoming Los Angeles we strived to reduce the elements to their essence. Not for the purpose of being minimalistic, but to focus the visitors' attention on the core narrative. The minimalism is an honest byproduct of this design approach. In the example, the best possible way to say "war" is not with every object in the museum's collection attributed to this idea, but instead to choose only those objects that distill this concept to its essence - two rifles pointed at eachother.


The first iteration of this distilled idea was sketched with the rifles as if they were shouldered.


The next version tipped the guns on their edge, as if the United States (on the top) and Mexico (on the bottom) were superimposed over an invisible map.


Here is the final installation that Justinian Jampol and Christopher Wyrick discuss in the article. Standing nearly 10 feet tall and dramatically lit from the inside, as if a flash of light is streaming from the rifles' barrels.

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LR/LA visits Museum of Tolerance with LA Weekly

October 24, 2013

LA Weekly's Amanda Lewis asked LR/LA president Leon Rodriguez to join her for a walkthrough and critique of the new exhibition "Anne". Click here to read the article.

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Voice of America - Los Angeles Natural History Museum Redefined

August 14, 2013

Watch visitors comment on and interact with Becoming Los Angeles. See the full story here.

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The 9/11 Memorial Museum featured on 60 Minutes

April 29, 2013

The 9/11 Museum located at the 9/11 Memorial in lower Manhattan is featured on 60 Minutes. See the online segment here.

Lesley Stahl's commentary on her piece for the 9/11 Memorial Museum can be seen here on 60 Minutes Overtime. Hear Leslie describe the project's biggest challege, a very practical and physical one; the flooding caused by hurricane Sandy and the potential disaster to the artifacts and personal affects of the victims.

Exhibit design and digital media development by Thinc Design and Local Projects. Read about the museum's architecture team here.

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"Becoming Los Angeles" on Which Way LA with Warren Olney

April 22, 2013

The Natural History Museum's president Jane Pisano is interviewed by Warren Olney about "Becoming Los Angeles" and the transformation at the museum. Listen here.

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"Becoming Los Angeles" story on Daily News

April 3, 2013

Click here to read the Daily News story about our latest project "Becoming Los Angeles". 

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"Becoming Los Angeles" story on Curbed - L.A.

November 12, 2012

Click here to read Curbed LA's post about our latest project "Becoming Los Angeles".

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What is a watershed?

September 24, 2012

This recent KCET article by Carren Jao clears it up.

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Happy Birthday Los Angeles

September 4, 2012

To celebrate the 231st birthday of the city of Los Angeles the LA Times is prepared a little investigation about the oldest building in Los Angeles.

Another version of this article appears on the Huffington Post too.

LA Now produced this short segment showing some great interior and exterior shots of the structure.

Sanchez Adobe from Mark Ridley-Thomas on Vimeo.

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Ferris Bueller at NHM

February 10, 2012

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Donald Draper's best campaign yet

February 3, 2012

Finally, Mad Men will return to AMC on March 25th. For the street campaign, AMC chose to roll out the announcement by distilling the ingredients down to the bare minimum. They are so confident in the popularity of Mad Men that they are relying on only two elements. One, a tiny illustrated Don Draper, pulled from the shows intro, and two, the premiere date.

The strength of this campaign reveals so much about the inner-workings of AMC. They know their audience and are speaking directly to them. (If you haven't seen the show, you will not get this campaign.) They trust the power of excellent communication design. (The drama created by the scale and white space stand alone in the over-decorated world of street campaigns.) AMC is willing to commit to a concept that separates itself so dramatically from all others that it is redefining what a street campaign can look like.

But wait. There's more...



In the Manhattan subway system these ads have taken on a life of their own. First revealed in this Vanity Fair article and this Gothamist article, and then this followup from Gothamist. There is a wave of make-your-own ads, first on the actual subway ads by taggers, graf artists and out of work advertising creatives, then later, Gothamist invited readers to submit their own photoshop mashups. Don would be so proud.

Above is the original blank on the NY subway. Below is an original sketch over the ad, and then few of my favorite photoshop mash-ups pulled from

While not as strong as the "falling Don" part of the campaign. There are supplemental concepts that relay on type alone to remind you what it is you missed so much from Mad Men.

Photos of the "Andaz Hotel Don", "Envy is Back" and "Adultery is Back" were pulled from It's a great site for reviewing LA's latest street campaigns.

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NHM attendance up in 2011

January 24, 2012

The blog "Artinfo" posted this story about the massive increase in visitors since 2009. The design of their new exhibits there must have something to do with it.

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