Rosa Parks Museum and Children’s Annex
Rosa Parks Museum and Children’s Annex
PRIMARY EXHIBIT COMPLETED 2005
SECONDARY EXHIBITS COMPLETED 2007
A Moment in Time
No flashbulbs popped when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus in 1955.
No one was interviewed, no artifacts were collected. But that one very unheralded act—not moving—galvanized a movement. It changed a nation. And Mrs. Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. became iconic figures in American history.
Over time, the true story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott’s beginnings had become blurred by a host of urban legends.
The Rosa Parks Museum not only sets the record straight - it puts this extraordinary event in its proper context, telling the stories of the many extraordinary citizens in Montgomery who risked their lives and livelihood to advance the cause of justice.
The Main Show
The keystone exhibit features a real 1955 Montgomery bus, surrounded with historically accurate street lights & signs, theater marquees, newspaper boxes, and more.
Scenery moves along the wall behind the bus, creating the sensation that it’s driving along the street. Traffic signs change as the bus “pulls up” to several stops.
Four projectors show films on the bus exterior as visitors work through the exhibit.
To complete the experience, a minute-by-minute video reenactment of the events brings visitors even closer to this historic moment.
It Takes a Community
The interpretive space was designed to set the stage and provide context for the dramatic events of December 1, 1955.
The exhibit brings to life the day-to-day humiliations African-Americans suffered under segregation, ultimately revealing the protest to be an intellectual and strategic response.
It also demonstrates the long pre-boycott history of resistance—introducing key players, the stories that led them to take a stand, and how it took an entire community to spur change.
Bringing the Story to Life
To carry the immersive environment beyond the bus, the museum is filled with models of the Montgomery protesters going about their daily business—everywhere but on a bus.
We used never-before-published letters and surveillance reports detailing the network of volunteers and vehicles that kept the community rolling for 381 days, until the Supreme Court ruled against segregated bus service. Research gave insight into the daily activities of both police and protestors, helping create an exhibit that shows immediacy of the moment.
Two years after the museum opened, Troy University brought Eisterhold Associates back to expand the Rosa Parks Museum with two new exhibits.
To catch and keep kids attention, we produced another Montgomery city bus with an unusual transportation option—time travel.
The Time Machine experience is so big, we had to make our re-creation one and a half times the size of an actual Montgomery bus. Floor-to-ceiling projection screens surrounding the bus create the illusion of movement and play the historic scenes that visitors encounter on their journey through time.
To bring the scenes to life, historic reenactments were filmed using green screens and were then incorporated into period black and white photographs.
Enveloped in a multi-sensory video production, visitors are taken on a series of “time jumps” from Jim Crow to “Separate But Equal.” As the experience ends, visitors continue with a newfound understanding of the museum’s historical context.
A robotic bus driver, Mr. Rivets, pilots the Cleveland Avenue Time Machine.
Mr. Rivets takes kids (and adults) to nine great moments in Civil Rights history, complete with glowing lights, fog, serious hydraulics, and thunderous sound.
The environment (informed by an elaborate theory of time travel developed by one of Buckminster Fuller’s engineers) was made from recycled military surplus, Mr. Rivets from used car parts.
The Cleveland Avenue Time Machine won a 2007 Themed Entertainment Award.
As rich as the visitor experience at the Rosa Parks Museum is, the building isn’t big enough to display everything in the collection that’s worth seeing.
To allow visitors to dive deeper we created a user-friendly digital archive. The archive provides access to fascinating historical material—everything from the arrest records of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. to the oral histories of witnesses and critical moments in the Civil Rights movement.
Visitors can get a thematic overview of the archives from three large timeline murals that surround the digital access points.
When visitors are ready to dig into the digital archives, the information is organized to match the timeline murals so that the archive is accessible and easy to navigate.
The archive can be searched by graphic clues on the timeline or by date, name, or keyword.
To make the archive even more approachable, it provides curated legal and historical events as a starting points for exploring.
The archives are also open-ended, allowing staff to update the content as needed.