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Creativity & Collaboration Leads to New Museum Exhibit

Posted on: Oct 15th, 2013

What happens when you combine the expertise of a nationally-recognized architect and exhibit design consultant, world-class interior design firms, innovative educators, carpet professionals and museum leaders with creative ideas from children?

The answer: A one-of-a-kind Palace of Persia exhibit with flying carpets that can only be found at the newly-opened Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac, located at 75 W. Scott Street.

The Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac is pleased to announce a Saturday, November 9, 2013 opening of the Palace of Persia, one of a dozen developments planned for the new facility.

Just seven weeks after the museum had its re-opening in July 2013, more than 7,000 visitors already enjoyed the outstanding design of the facility that was largely due to collaborative efforts from design firms, Excel Engineering (Fond du Lac), Architecture is Fun (Chicago, Illinois) and lead construction team, CD Smith. The building itself boasts an impressive steel canopy for welcoming families and school groups, two classrooms and immense space. Vivid colors are used throughout to inspire, invigorate and ignite young minds.  A remarkable transformation of a facility that was vacant for nearly a decade!

Taking a closer look, you will find nearly 25,000 square feet of public spaces both indoor and out, that reflect lead designers, Peter and Sharon Exley’s ability to create museums with a multi-layered, flexible and kinetic environments. These brilliantly designed spaces inspire intuitive and unpredictable interaction and harnesses the power of play.

After reviewing results of feedback forums where both children and adults weighed in, the Exleys designed several new exhibit areas, including the Palace of Persia to complement the Museum’s existing world travel theme. The exhibit will feature a modular maze-like footprint, complete with throne, banquet table and a garden for preparing the royal feast. The decorated maze walls demonstrate the Ancient Persian genius for beauty, geometry and ornament.

“We utilized the influences of Ancient Persia, where architecture was the highest art, demonstrated by huge building projects and structural inventiveness of grand palaces with vaults, domes and patterned courtyards that were filled with gorgeous mosaic, rugs and artwork to design an environment ideal for exposing children to geography, architecture, traditions and cultures, stated Peter Exley, FAIA, Architecture is Fun design studio.

“Children will discover ways to be enterprising at the bazaar, selling wares. When ‘nighttime’ falls at the Palace of Persia, families will gather on magic carpets for storytelling,” added Sharon Exley, MAAE and director of educative design.

“For children, studying Persia, learning about its geography, architecture, traditions and culture is key to understanding the ancient world and the Middle East today,” noted Sharon.

Once the conceptual design of the palace was rendered (see illustrative photo), the Children’s Museum was tasked with finding a fabrication team. Looking beyond the traditional developers of children’s museums which are not commonly found in Wisconsin, they reached out to Interior Systems (ISI), a world-class company that has been bringing interior design / build solutions to restaurant, retail, and education markets around the globe for more than 30 years, with offices in Fond du Lac, Milwaukee and Los Angeles.

“As a non-profit that exists primarily to serve this region, it is important for us to work locally, whenever possible, to help achieve our vision of connecting children with their communities and their culturally diverse world,” commented Andrea Welsch, the Museum’s executive director.

When the design plans were shared with Jason Vogds, project manager for ISI’s diversified accounts division, he was confident that ISI had the skills, resources and creative team to design and build elements for the Children’s Museum. Vogds, who typically works on interior furniture and décors for establishments such as Burger King, Burger 21 and similar eateries, was eager to embark on the project.

In addition to the Palace of Persia, he also managed the creation of the Museum’s ingenious front desk (also designed by the Exleys), which is 12 feet in length and elevated on casters to support the changing demands of the Museum’s daily programs.

“It was a great experience to couple the design expertise of Peter and Sharon with the creativity and technical skills of Lindsay Preboske, Jean Christianson, and Hope Del Ponte along with our construction team lead by Randy Radtke,” stated Vogds.

“ISI has expanded its service markets well beyond our popular accounts of McDonald’s and Burger King, although, our projects with the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac represent the first in this sector. We are excited to support their developments and pleased that we can be a part of it,” noted Jennifer Torres, senior marketing coordinator.

Adding yet another unique local twist to the Palace of Persia exhibit is key sponsor, Twohig Flooring America.

“We have been long supporters of the Children’s Museum and partnering with these folks on their latest exhibit, complete with flying carpets, is our honor,” stated Kevin Twohig, co-owner of Twohig Flooring America.

For more information, contact the Children’s Museum at or call (920) 929-0707.

Palace of persia
Palace of Persia Collaboration Team low res

Working together to create the Palace of Persia, a new exhibit opening November 9, 2013 at the Children’s Museum of Fond du Lac.
Back row: Jason Vogds and Hope Del Ponte (Interior Systems), Kevin Twohig (Twohig Flooring America), Cyndi Trent (CMFDL), Peter Exley (Architecture is Fun).
Front Row: Sharon Exley (Architecture is Fun), Andrea Welsch (CMFDL), Lindsay Preboske and Jean Christianson (Interior Systems)