Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Mascot Hall of Fame -- From Big Idea to Opening Day in 6 Months

Jacqueline Johnson leads client projects at Chicago Scenic Studios and has more than a decade of experience in the museum field — including positions at Chicago’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art.  Jacqueline was kind enough to offer this guest post about the recently opened Mascot Hall of Fame.

Does project – and team - management make a difference in creating an excellent museum exhibit?

Ask the intrepid team of museum design, exhibit fabrication, and tech professionals who worked together to bring a Big Idea to life in just over six months.
The Big Idea - the Mascot Hall of Fame - was the brainchild of David Raymond, the creator of the Phillie Fanatic, the original team mascot of the Philadelphia Phillies. Four years ago, Raymond met Whiting, Indiana Mayor Joe Stahura, whose own quirky Pierogi Fest draws thousands to the small lakefront Indiana city each summer. Once those two met, they decided it was time to stop talking and bring the Hall of Fame to fruition on the City’s resurgent lakefront zone.
Next up, museum exhibit design firm JRA of Cincinnati and Chicago Scenic Studios, a Chicago design and fabrication firm, joined the team. The dream moved from vision to reality fast, becoming a 25,000 square foot facility that opened in late 2018 and houses exhibits, activities and events that celebrate sports mascots. 

Chicago Scenic’s primary project management team – Jim Mallerdino and Doug Peer, each experienced in fabrication and museum project planning - kept the team moving against a demanding timetable. In just six months, artisans and fabricators built the seven exhibits areas and environments that round out the interactive, fun, and family-oriented experience.
Oh and there’s this: Each of those exhibits areas speak the language of FUN to kids and adults alike, with playful names like Fuzzical Education, Fureshman Orientation, Science of Silliness, Marvelous Mascot Maker, Mascot Studies, The Furry Arts, and Frankenfur’s Mascots.

The Chicago Scenic team also managed the fabrication of two unique stores onsite – a gift store and a Build-a-Bear experience – and the larger group of skilled subcontractors who brought digital interactives, graphics, specialty flooring, specialty painting, and decorative inflatables to complete the Hall of Fame attraction.
While the museum targets 8-13-year-olds, its many layers of interactive exhibits, entertaining videos, authentic mascot experiences, and curated artifacts like the massive mascot heads hanging in the museum’s opening lobby, appeal to a much broader and older audience as well.
When a project of this size and scope is done right, a great team of professional museum designers, builders, and specialty service providers can almost make it look easy. How fitting for a place that pays tribute to sports mascots, characters that are brought to life by people toiling in heavy, hot, and furry costumes for hours on end – strutting, dancing, and entertaining fans.

Find out more about the Mascot Hall of Fame online at

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