Abstract Shapes Limit Museum Commotion

Artwork made with pinta acoustic products stimulates imagination and controls sound at Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.

An overhead sculpture of pinta acoustic’s colorful Sonex Rondo baffles mitigates sound in the Food Shed.

Custom abstract butterfly shapes take visitors from inside to Bill’s Backyard of the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, CA. Made with pinta acoustic’s Willtec foam, they are part of a multiyear renovation and expansion that provides acoustical control and creates movement in the circulation area. The museum also added a sculpture made from pinta’s Sonex Rondo baffles that absorb sound and symbolize green and natural things in the FoodShed café at the museum. The museum offers interactive exhibits and programs encompassing science, humanities, performing arts, health, and physical fitness.

Recently added to the museum, Bill’s Backyard is an outdoor learning environment. A half-acre of welcoming and safe nature exploration, the interactive exhibits allow kids to climb, dig, plant, and more. To get to Bill’s Backyard, museum guests pass through a tall circulation area. Using abstract Willtec acoustic foam butterfly shapes, David Fenster, principal at Modulus, San Jose, added direction and movement leading from the beginning of the circulation path to Bill’s Backyard.

“The branding for Bill’s Backyard includes butterflies,” said Fenster. “We created abstract butterflies out of pinta’s Willtec acoustic foam that swarm together to guide visitors, with the added benefit of sound absorption.”

The circulation area is approximately 1,800 sq. ft. with tall, 40-ft. ceilings that triangulate in sections. The area has skylights, polished concrete floors, drywall, large glass doors, and other hard, reflective surfaces, requiring sound absorption. Fenster used test pieces, crafted on the computer and made from cardboard, to determine the best shapes and sizes to achieve the look. He worked with pinta acoustic’s team to develop an innovative approach to hang 1,700 lightweight shapes from the ceiling. They used a net to provide a grid to hang the baffles at different heights.

Pinta acoustic’s Willtec abstract acoustic foam butterfly shapes add direction and movement leading from the beginning of the circulation path to Bill’s Backyard.

“The eye-catching foam sculptures provide the perfect solution for absorbing the sound of hundreds of children having fun every day,” said Marilee Jennings, executive director of Children’s Discovery Museum. “The experience our visitors now have is so much more pleasant and aesthetically pleasing with these remarkably creative and imaginative designs.”

The museum also renovated its café, the FoodShed, wanting to transform it into an appealing place to eat and promote fresh and healthy foods. Featuring reclaimed and recycled material, the café is approximately 40 x 40 ft. with a 30-ft. ceiling. Prior to the renovation, the café had a spray-on acoustic treatment on the walls that was collecting dirt and grime. An acoustic treatment to replace the spray-on foam and mitigate noise from hundreds of kids who visit the museum every day was needed. Modulus created an overhead sculpture of colorful Sonex Rondo baffles. The baffles are water-based acoustic, coated in two green and three orange hues.

“The museum wanted something that would involve and educate the kids and be a part of the museum experience,” said Fenster. “The abstract and engaging sculpture was hung from the ceiling with mechanical fasteners down to where the sound can be absorbed.”


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