The Narrative Museum

  • Willard Carroll and Tom Wilhite own the largest collection of Wizard of Oz memorabilia in the world. They asked for RISD students to design a museum to house their collection in Camden, Maine, near their home. My proposal asks, “If Oz were a real place, what would the National Museum look like?”. To answer this question, I imagined the visitor experience of native Oz-ians as well as tourists (Munchkins, Humans, etc.) to the country's National Museum. The progression through the museum recalls key parts of the storyline: traveling through the poppy field in order to get to the city of Oz; the green glow of the Emerald City; the disorienting confusion of the tornado; the colorful delight of the land over the rainbow.
  • The site chosen by Tom and Willard is located on their property and features an existing building which they hope to use for the museum.
  • The Entrance
  • Once inside, the visitor experience is very controlled and progressive. 
  • Lobby: The Emerald City
    Tickets are purchased in a glowing Emerald City-inspired lobby bathed in green light. The original story explains that Dorothy and her friends were given green goggles to wear when they entered the Emerald City, literally coloring their vision green. 
  • The Timeline: History of Oz
    After purchasing tickets visitors are directed to the Timeline, which showcases key elements of Tom and Willard's collection while telling a chronological history of the story. 
  • Transitional Space: The Tornado
    The Timeline transitions into with a long, dark, sloping hallway with a single door surrounded by light at the end. This is the Tornado. It is intended to disorient visitors and deprive them of sensory input. The purpose, unbeknowst to them, is for maximum visual impact upon going through the door at the end of the hallway.
  • The Main Gallery: The Land of Oz
    After traveling through the Tornado, visitors open the door and step out into the Land of Oz: a single room showcasing the entire collection, neatly organized, but intensely and overwhelmingly filled with delightful, wondrous objects, books, posters, and collectables. This experience of course recalls Dorothy's, and the viewer's experience in the movie when the door opens into the Technicolor world of Oz.