Listening to the Humdrum of Machinery

Exhibition Design

A collaborative exhibition design project aiming to transform two old buildings located in Coltsville Historic District, Hartford, CT, into exhibition space as well as a community center.

Curator: Béatrice Duchastel de Montrouge
Exhibition Designer: Yujiang Wu

Our exhibit for the Coltsville Historic District is titled Listening to the Humdrum of Machinery: Highlighting the Lives of Workers at the Colt Manufacturing Plant. In it, we focus on the many narratives of workers that have passed through the Colt factory at the East Armory Complex and highlight the often forgotten histories of their labor. To do this, we have crafted three different workers from three different time periods that visitors can follow: a skilled German immigrant working in the 1860s, a women worker and mother from the 1940s, and a Hispanic immigrant working during the closure and move of this plant in the 1990s.

To reveal the unseen labor and bring the community together, several paths are created to connect the workers’ housing with the exhibition space, forming a public sculptural garden. These paths extend to 'cut through' the building, exposing the original ventilation structure within the walls, as if unveiling the hidden history. New material, glass, is introduced to bring more natural light into the architecture. The building flooded with natural light is transformed into a community center with multiple functions, while the other, illuminated with controlled lighting, becomes the exhibition space.

The exhibit is broken up into five thematic sections where visitors can see what a day in the life of each of these workers looks like: Waking up and starting your day, Going to the factory, Working your job, Returning home, and Enjoying your day off. Through this exhibit, we hope to reanimate the noise and activity that once lived in these buildings, and to encourage visitors to listen to the many people who passed through them.

Floor Plan
Interior View & Elevation
Physical Model of
Section 3
Isometric View & Construction Detail
Section Drawing
Exhibition Catalog