Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center
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The Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center is a caretaker of the story of the Wenatchee Valley, and its current site is in need of a re-anchoring into its community. This project aims to reimagine the museum as a welcoming space that helps visitors understand the cultural breadth and communal spirit of this part of Washington State.
The project goal is to make the museum a frontline of vision, not just a place for artifacts. The buildings become part of the exhibit collection and function as a tool to interpret the voice of the place. This begins with legibility and accessibility. Through a multi-day participatory design process, Signal worked with museum staff, board members, community groups, and the City to imagine the future.
By centralizing access to the museum buildings and reaching out to downtown, the design creates an equitable experience for all visitors. With visitor experiences at the heart of the initiative, the team effort revealed how clever architectural strategy at the museum has the potential to produce a realignment of local urban design–solving layered issues for the museum, staff, and programming. By locating the front door on the opposite side of the building, the adjacent park, alley, and nearby historic downtown become part of the museum program.
A new, centrally located elevator and grand stair, along with a North-South pathway at the lower level, connects curatorial, exhibit, and education for seamless connection between public and private operations. And an inviting and welcoming gathering hall solves existing bottleneck, accessibility, and circulation issues.
The courtyard concept creates a welcoming and open space for visitors – both new and returning – by creating a strong physical and visual connection between the existing Centennial Park and a new, welcoming east-facing entry plaza of the museum. Visitors are welcomed to the vibrant cafe, courtyard, and gathering space for a moment or the day, and a constant invitation to return any time.