Contemporary Issues Forum
Contemporary Issues Forum
Contemporary Issues Forum

Contemporary Issues Forum

Local Projects LLC, New York, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 2010


Project brief: Located at the new National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, the Contemporary Issues Forum encourages visitors to engage, consider and debate current issues of vital importance. Visitors are invited to document their personal insights and feelings on hot-button topics of the day and to talk with others as they work through the opinions that resemble theirs and those that do not.

Approach: This gallery reinvigorates the philosophical roots of liberty through the opinions and debates that typify democracy, America and the Jewish-American experience. Visitors entering the gallery encounter a table stocked with three types of custom cards that are color-coded and labeled with either “Yes,” “No,” or “Um.” After reading the four walls that each present a different question, visitors write their responses on cards, have their cards quickly scanned, then post their cards to the wall.

The questions are programmed regularly and range from “Should the government regulate where houses of worship are built?” to “Are Jews White?” to “Is intermarriage a significant threat to religious communities?”

Then, through a “low-tech” approach (by default of color code), the cards display the dominant opinion as related to each question. Not to leave technology by the wayside, the scanned card images are simultaneously shuttled to a microsite ( where visitors can later see their cards, see other opinions and continue the debate. Lastly, video is captured of the visitors posting their cards and then re-projected as an attract loop. This not only helps demonstrate the function of the gallery but also creates an association of responsibility by linking an image of the visitor who posted the opinion with the opinion itself.

Effectiveness: On a larger scale, this installation helps the Museum collect, organize and put to good use the information that is contributed by visitors. The installation contains a custom content-management system that allows Museum curators and administrators to update the questions, monitor the responses and review the information gathered. This also allows the Museum to continue building education and curatorial programs that cover thoughts and opinions that bring the content of the Museum into the future and into the next realm of public dialogue.

Juror Notes

An idea that really engages people so that everyone can feel like a part of the story. Effective synthesis of real and digital experience. Took provocative statements and ideas and created a safe but not stupid environment where they could be discussed.

Beautiful. An idea that really engages people. Makes the community feel their voices are heard. A combination of technical and tactile and digital. Could become a design pattern and is very marketable. Made entire CMS for the Museum to use in future. Could use in any other context.

Collections: AIGA 365: Design Effectiveness (2011)
Repository: Denver Art Museum
Discipline: Experience design
Format: Exhibit, Interaction, Artifact, Interface


Design firm
Local Projects LLC, New York
Creative director
Jake Barton
Art director
Katie Lee
Interactive designer
Ian Curry
Production director
Tiya Gordon
Production coordinator
A’yen Tran
Ted Hayes
Yuliya Parshina
Brian House
National Museum of American Jewish History