In 1881, the Cincinnati Red Stockings made their debut beating Saint Louis 12-3 during a weekend exhibition game away from home. One hundred and thirty-nine years later, with five World Series championships under their belts, and now known as the Cincinnati Reds, the storied Major League Baseball (MLB) team has grown to be an enduring fixture of the local Cincinnati community.
Recently, Cincinnati-based design firm FRCH Nelson led the renovation of the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, done in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the founding of professional baseball. With interactive exhibits, newly acquired Reds memorabilia and life-size figures of players, the new Hall of Fame and Museum is a uniquely immersive experiences for fans and novices alike.
Progressing Through Space and Time
The museum spans 16,000 square feet stretched over three narrow levels, so the design team was challenged to create a sense of openness as well as an opportunity for guests to explore on their own terms, without being limited by the linear nature of the building.
FRCH Nelson used the progression of the building to highlight the progression of Red’s history and, in turn, the history of baseball as a sport, culminating in the Hall of Fame.
The layout is designed with enough flexibility for the Reds to be able to change out displays as they refresh or add memorabilia. “Giving the museum itself the ability to flex when they need to is critical to being current,” says Aaron Ruef, FRCH Nelson, client services director for the project.
Something for Everyone, Every Time
There is no one definition of the modern fan of baseball, Ruef explains, so the museum was designed to be experienced by diehard fans as well as casual fans of all ages. With this in mind, the design team strove to “deliver a unique museum experience that allows you to choose or customize your experience as you engage with the space,” he says.
The interactive design of the exhibits allows fans who desire a more in-depth experience to “double click” into more details about favorite players or specific baseball cards. A more casual fan, or even a guest who knows nothing about MLB, can experience the museum at surface level and still comprehend the intended narrative.
Ruef explains the key to the diverse experience was “developing multiple storylines that can range anywhere from the extremely detailed, to the larger overarching Cincinnati Reds’ brand story, and everything in between.”
An Experience to Remember
One of the standout features of the museum is the interactive Fox broadcast booth, in which fans of all ages can enjoy calling a classic moment in baseball or performing an interview or newscast. The booth is part of the first broadcasters Hall of Fame in professional sport.
The museum boasts a massive collection of baseball cards organized in both a digital and analog system, which allows guests to explore the archives and even create their own baseball card.
Ruef says this takes the museum to the next level with interactivity. “Multiple immersive media experiences throughout, culminating in a truly one-of-a-kind digital interface that allows you to hear and see the stories of each individual Reds player inducted into the Reds Hall of Fame,” he says.
Interactive exhibits like these give guests a reason to return. “You could spend an entire afternoon or you could spend a quick 30 minutes before a game,” explains Ruef. “Every time you come back, it's going to be a different experience.”
Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and Museum, Cincinnati
Design and Architecture
FRCH Nelson, Cincinnati: Robyn Novak, Creative Director; Marty McCauley, Design Director; Mike Ruehlman, Design Director; Aaron Ruef, Project Director, Client Leader; Hortensia Gonzalez, Senior Interior Designer; Kendall Sebald, Interior Designer; Lori Kolthoff, Resource Designer; Brian Sullivan, Architect, AIA; Abby Golden, Interior Designer
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Photography: Lesle Lane, Studio 13, Indianapolis