Case Study

Maine Mineral & Gem Museum

Maine Mineral & Gem Museum
Bethel, Maine
Museum Design
Paulus Design Group
The Story Board
Ellie Spahn
Additional Illustrations
Pam Chevez

Over the past few years, Perch has worked closely with Paulus Design Group and the soon-to-open Maine Mineral & Gem Museum on the planning and design of the museum’s exhibits and a wide variety of technology-driven visitor experiences.

Situated in the heart of Maine mineral country, the museum’s incredible collection is complemented with exhibits that walk visitors through the history of mining in Maine, the stories of Maine miners, and an impressive earth science curriculum for school groups. Perch has played a wide-ranging role throughout the museum design process, developing interactive concepts from start to finish, creating spatial renderings, helping the museum grow its brand, and designing all exhibit graphics.



Concepting & Exhibit Design

The Maine Mineral & Gem Museum presented an interesting opportunity to design and build a museum from the ground up, even as the permanent collections were still in flux. As a result of this unique challenge, the design process was highly iterative, relying heavily on renderings and conceptual models.

The final exhibit graphics were designed upon a broad style guide that Perch developed throughout the concepting phase, consisting of generative graphic patterns, historic and modern typefaces, and a wide range of colors. As visitors move from the historic introductory exhibits to the contemporary jewelry exhibits, the patterning and color schemes change from irregular shapes and earthier tones into more geometric patterns and a lighter palette.

Initial exhibit concept studies.
3d-printed model of the exhibit spaces.
Early conceptual renderings.

Maine Minerals, Maine Voices

Tasked with showcasing the stories of the men and women of the Maine mining industry, we designed and developed three unique digital concepts that engage different types of users on different levels, drawing from the museum’s growing archive of oral histories.

A phone-based scavenger hunt guides visitors through the museum by introducing them to the Mainers behind the specimens on display, playfully introducing them as characters along your expedition. Visitors unlock stories and collectible items by tapping their phone to “keys” found throughout the museum exhibits.

Six interactive video kiosks distill many hours of oral history content into co

hesive museum-wide themes, each organized into short chapters found throughout the museum.

A single research-oriented oral history browser allows guests and researchers to explore the entire oral history archive.


The Critical Zone

An impressive two-story diorama cuts through both levels of the museum, exposing the geology under our feet to visitors on the first floor and featuring Maine flora and fauna on the second. To activate the space without cluttering it with labels, Perch designed and developed an AR display that visitors can rotate to view details about an item in the diorama and spotlight it within the scene.

Additionally, to house the museum’s earth science curriculum that cannot be shown at the diorama scale, Perch designed and developed an accompanying powers-of-ten-style touchscreen interface to showcase geologic concepts in an engaging and playful way.