The museum store at the Smithsonian Museum of American History currently defers to the authority of the museum, politely observing, careful to not be confused with the institution and its artifacts. The store is tolerated as long as it remains within the clearly delineated boundaries set for it. The museum recognizes the obscene and contradictory nature of the gift shop and its objects and attempts to suppress them. However, the museum is stealthily acting as a showroom for the items in the catalog; history is being instrumentalized to sell merchandise. This project renders this relationship visible, amplifying it to deinstitutionalize the museum. Instead of treating the museum and store as two different spatial types, this thesis posits that the two are more alike than different.
Using the furniture giant IKEA as a case study, the proposed store thus becomes a showroom for the Smithsonian catalogue. The store shall be allowed to implicate the museum, laying bare the futile act of framing a singular narrative around an arbitrary series of unrelated objects. The store is set up as a one-way linear space, guaranteeing that the shopper sees every possible object for sale. This linear space winds its way through the museum, grabbing any territory that has been left under utilized by the museum. It bypasses exhibitions, cuts through exhibitions, and even provides better viewing of certain exhibitions.
Status: School Project
Location: Washington, DC, US
My Role: M.Arch Thesis