Cane Toad Exhibit Design
Experiential Graphic Design
I created this exhibit model for a course on exhibit design. I was tasked with developing a to-scale model that visually discussed an assigned species: the cane toad.
I began by researching and learning about the cane toad.
Findings and References
The most important points I wanted to include in the exhibit were the toad’s size and anatomy, unsettling features, natural bufotoxin, invasivity, and the
urban legends related to toad licking as a psychoactive drug source.
The toad’s eggs are produced in a long, clear, noodle-like sac. Their toxin is produced in the parotoid gland on the back of their necks. This toxin has been researched as a cancer treatment and as a natural hair growth inhibitor.
Based on these findings, I began to design the exhibits.
My visual ideation process started with sketches based on my research process. It also included quick model building, scale referencing, and a plan view of how people would move through the space.
Full Size Sketch
In this group critique, my classmates and I were taking a look at my first full-size sketch with spaces identified and planned.
My priorities were determining the shape, number, and size of the displays as well as how visitors will move through the overall space.
3D Sketch Model
I then developed a full size (to-scale), 3D model out of cardboard, paper and hot glue.
Here, I was beginning to determine the look of the models based on my initial sketches. I was also using scale model figures to help determine the appropriate size of the displays.
Final Model Building Process
Finally, I built my final model, selecting papers, boards, lasercut acrylic panels and model plants to flesh out the look of the exhibit.
This was a trial and error process, testing different material samples to see what looked best. I settled on lasercut acrylic, a variety of textured papers, glitter, and model plants.
Final Model and Planned Exhibit Spaces
This is my final model, labeled with each exhibit's topic of focus. After entering, visitors would move through the "Life Cycle" exhibit before entering the main gallery featuring a "Live Exhibit," "Invasivity" map, an "Anatomy" exhibit, and a "News and Toad Dangers" wall. They would then move through the "Bufotoxin Research" area and then into the "Entheogenic" hallway before exiting.
Invasivity and Entheogenic Use
The top pair of photos are a "News" exhibit that explores the way dangerous toads are moving into the southern US.
The bottom pair shows an exhibit inspired by entheogenic uses of the toad; this (safe) hallucinatory, fog-filled walkway materializes the spiritual and recreational uses of “toad-licking."
Invasivity 2 and Live Habitat
The top exhibit explores the accompanied by a large floor map, this unique space visualizes the magnitude of toad invasivity.
Below, a live exhibit allows the audience to view toads up close. The habitat would be encased in glass or acrylic.
While this was a bit of an "old-school" project, I think it was a great exercise in careful presentation and space planning. Thinking about the way people will use a space overall and move through it is a really difficult process with a lot of varying opinions. I would love the opportunity to execute something like this in a real museum.