Chrysler Museum of Art

Wonder Studio

Young visitors have a safe-for-kids space in which to explore and make art.

Museums are expected to present art through scholarly interpretation and historical contextualization. The Wonder Studio gallery — opened in July, 2018, at the Chrysler Museum of Art — sidesteps traditional educational and interpretive methods to invite kids and their families to see and create art through playfulness, performance, and a touch of irreverence and whimsy. Conceived holistically as a comfortable environment with seating and digital and analogue interactives, the Wonder Studio addresses barriers that families have expressed about how to they encounter art in a museum — that it is over their heads, requires a lot of walking, or places artworks precariously in reach of little hands.

Upswell worked with design partners, the education team, curators, the registrar, and the restoration staff to push the boundaries on bringing the museum’s collection to a family audience, without excluding other visitors. Visitor research helped identify core concepts and qualities that appealed to families. After much iteration and a move to a more centrally located space, the Wonder Studio’s three multisensory, experiential zones (punctuated by resting areas) — Colorscape, Artquarium, The Studio — invite visitors to get their whole bodies into the experience of artmaking while getting an up-close view of over 50 works, hung and labeled in an unorthodox manner to support different ways of seeing and learning.

The Wonder Studio brand identity — whimsical, humorous, clever — ties the space together through full-wall graphics, a custom font, simple digital interfaces, and a vibrant color palette.

An experiment in experiencing art, for kids and families and everyone else.

The Artquarium brings together paintings, statues, artifacts, and photographic reproductions under one theme, letting visitors like this young girl see these different pieces next to each other.
A young girl uses a custom-designed periscope to get a different view on artworks in the Wonder Studio Artquarium.
Environmental graphics, interface designs, and artful crops of works of art connect all elements of the space.
Families can safely get the wiggles out in the Colorscape color-mixing alcove.
A young visitor listens to artwork-related audio clips on an ear horn attached to the Artquarium artwork case, housing over 50 artworks in the Wonder Studio.
Crop of the Artquarium brochure


  • Wonder Studio


  • Norfolk, VA


  • 2018


  • +&>
    • Physical Design
    • Interior Architecture
    • Experience Design
  • USD Design
    • Engagement Management
    • Experience Design
  • Steelab
    • Fabrication
  • Work Program Architects
    • Architect of Record