Concept Video

Project Details


Museum exhibitions provide a window into our culture but often fail to represent the community they reside in. We strive to tackle this by building a platform where residents become the curators.


Through the Open Door Museum, we hope to amplify the community's voice through a system of exhibitions where community members become the curators and share their stories and cherished objects. We want to provide an alternate purpose for museums when taken out into the public, where they can more easily facilitate community members into building a collective identity through objects.


We created a pair of hardware-integrated cabinets, one cabinet to scan in objects people submit and one cabinet to display that scanned object through holographic projection.


A museum is an exclusive environment that only people with the financial means can afford to visit. Furthermore, museums often don't reflect the communities they are embedded in as what museum curators decide to present in their exhibitions often don't reflect the community.

Installation Build

The final build measures around 19" by 22" by 60" and contains two cabinets and a control box that sit on top of a stand. The larger cabinet is used to scan objects in. The smaller cabinet is used to display objects.

Final drawing from SolidWorks model

Scanning cabinet

Dimensions: 17" by 16" by 20.25"

Materials: Birch plywood (1/2, 1/4, 1/8 inch), laser cut acrylic, velvet, magnets, dowels

Purpose: Scan objects using a camera to take a video of the object spinning on a stepper motor powered turntable. The background must be fully black in order to create the pepper's ghost effect.

Object being placed onto the spinning platform

Display Cabinet

✏️ Dimensions: 11.5" by 13.5" by 15.25"

Materials: Birch plywood (1/2, 1/4, 1/8 inch), laser cut acrylic, magnets, polypropylene sheet, laser engraved paper

Purpose: Display objects through the pepper's ghost effect using an iPad projecting onto a thin sheet of plastic. Users can view different submitted objects by scrolling through the timeline visualized through the laser engraved paper.

Viewing objects in the display cabinet

Control Box

Dimensions: 13" by 5.5" by 5.5"

Materials: Birch plywood (1/2, 1/4, inch), polymer clay

Purpose: Display objects through the pepper's ghost effect using an iPad projecting onto a thin sheet of plastic. Users can view different submitted objects by scrolling through the timeline visualized through the laser engraved paper.

Control box to interact with the Open Door Museum and submit objects

More About the Open Door Museum

Cabinet Metaphor: Cabinets hold things. People use them to hold anything and everything.  In our case, we want these cabinets to hold digital footprints of objects from the community. You never know what you're going to find in a cabinet until you open it - it can spark curiosity and offer a glimpse into another person's world.

User Journey
  1. User walks by scanning cabinet which causes it to light up
  2. User reads the first set of instructions displayed and opens the cabinet, puts in their object, closes the door, and presses a button to begin scanning.
  3. Lights display loading pattern until scan is complete. User can also watch and verify the scan from the control box.
  4. (speculative) Scanned object is classified using AI and user confirms or over-rights the classification.
  5. (speculative) A question is generated related to the object classification which prompts the user to tell a record short story about the meaning of the submitted artifact.
  6. Upon recording submission, the user is directed to the display cabinet with lights.
  7. When the user opens the display cabinet, their recently submitted object is shown and its story is played.
  8. Users can use a touch interface to scroll through previously submitted objects, appearing in the order they were submitted.
  9. (speculative) Users can also open and close the cabinet to get a randomized object and scroll to other artifacts from there.

The Open Door Museum is a system of exhibitions in the form of cabinets. These exhibitions represent the community they are placed in and can be installed anywhere. The goal of the system would be to have a set of cabinets in all public libraries around Pittsburgh (and eventually, cities besides Pittsburgh). This way, the cabinets will be free to access and available to a large audience. They can be installed inside or outside to give these public spaces flexibility in where the structure will live.

Cabinets in the CPL Main (Oakland) library during exhibition day
Form Inspiration

The form takes inspiration from  'You Can't Lay Down Your Memory' Chest of Drawers by Tejo Remy, as on display in the CMOA's 'Extraordinary Ordinary Things' exhibit. The piece also takes inspiration from cabinets and public infrastructure which creates a visual form language reflecting both a furniture piece and a structure built for the outside.


For the full design process, please visit this notion page. Below is an abbreviated version with mostly pictures.

Project and interaction ideation through whiteboard and paper sketching

Once we narrowed down our topic to community member's cherished objects, we did some user research through interviews to find out what objects people valued, why they valued them, and how they talked about their objects. We found that people tended to talk about smaller, hand held items and cherished them for personal or sentimental reasons. We also found that people struggled to tell compelling stories about their object unless well prompted.

Idea refinement
Foam model to help team plan Arduino components needed and where they would fit
Testing pepper's ghost projection and different ways of creating a 3D model of an object
White foam prototype of inner cabinet wall with some electronics on the outside
Rough working prototype with loose electronics, inner walls only
Inner and outer cabinet walls together
Nearly finished full installation build in the shop