Quatrefoil Homepage

MUSEUM PLANNING

EXPERIENCE DESIGN

EXHIBITION FABRICATION

Since 1989, Quatrefoil has grown from four founding partners into a cohesive, multidisciplinary team, working together to achieve excellence in museum exhibits and experiences.

Abbie Chessler Paula Schuman Ernie Falcone Paul DeCamp Michael W. Burns

Abbie Chessler

Founding Partner | Design

Abbie is the visionary and creative force that drives Quatrefoil. With over 25 years of design experience, Abbie is nationally recognized for her ability to create insightful museum plans and innovative exhibits.

Paula Schuman

Founding Partner | Vice President

Paula’s expertise in welding, woodworking and mount making has shaped our approach to quality fabrication and best practices in conservation. Paula now applies her expertise to managing Quatrefoil’s operations and corporate finances.

Ernie Falcone

Founding Partner | Technology Director

With nearly 30 years’ experience in custom electronics development, Ernie creates innovative solutions for museums. His ability to conceptualize and evaluate critical details is essential in developing Quatrefoil’s successful interactive experiences.

Paul DeCamp

Partner | Chief Operating Officer

For over 13 years, Paul has applied his management expertise to numerous complex projects. Paul is a skilled activity developer and fabricator, known for integrating custom software with unique, electromechanical interfaces. As Chief Operating Officer, he oversees business operations.

Michael W. Burns

Design Director

Michael has been designing interactive, media integrated environments for over 20 years. Formerly the Design Director at the Field Museum and Creative Director at the Shedd Aquarium, he has an extensive background in leading teams of designers, media producers and museum professionals to create imaginative and inspiring exhibition experiences. See what Michael has been thinking about at www.betweenspace.net

Project 01 / 06

United States Mint at Philadelphia | Philadelphia, PA

A stunning display of historic and rare coins, multimedia, memorable interactives and a factory tour all set the stage for visitors to travel through the United States Mint's past to the present. This 18,000-square-foot visitor tour experience was developed, designed, built and installed by Quatrefoil.

PNC Legacy Project | Pittsburgh, PA

Quatrefoil designed and built this unique multimedia experience focused on the Pittsburgh region’s transformation from a steel-based economy into a thriving information hub. It incorporates an oral history listening space, dynamic digital graphics and an interactive projection.

National Zoological Park | Elephant Trails | Washington, DC

Beginning with a Master Plan and continuing through design and fabrication, Quatrefoil worked with the National Zoo to create the new Elephant Trails experience. This includes an outdoor pavilion with interactives developed to inspire visitors to learn more about the elephants and their habitat, and to take action on their behalf.

Discovery Place | Charlotte, NC

Quatrefoil helped Discovery Place realize its new vision as a place to ignite wonder by providing extraordinary experiences. We developed, designed and built 15,000 square feet of new exhibitions. THEM explores health and the human body as an ecosystem of flora and fauna, Project Build discusses dwellings as forms of shelter and expression, and Fantastic Frogs combines live animals with a graphic novel approach.

Birch Aquarium | Boundless Energy | La Jolla, CA

Quatrefoil designed this interactive experience to create opportunities for visitors to explore how renewable energy resources are harnessed and delivered. The activities also address the challenges and benefits of renewable energy resources. Situated in an outdoor courtyard overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the activities and play spaces are attractive to family audiences.

Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum | Boulder, CO

This museum, dedicated to the spirit and fortitude of climbers who fill the legends of mountaineering history, was designed and built by Quatrefoil. Through personal stories and a wide variety of interactives and media, visitors are drawn into the art, skill and camaraderie of mountaineering.

We develop custom immersive museum exhibitions and experiences. Quatrefoil collaborates with you to realize the potential of your stories, bringing them to life by creating places for visitors to gather, play, and learn.

Our clients include history and cultural museums, science and technology centers, children’s museums and others—local and national, large and small.

HISTORYSCIENCEZOO & AQUARIUMART CHILDRENCORPORATE

Birch Aquarium

Bradford Washburn American Mountaineering Museum

Boulder History Museum

Brooklyn Children’s Museum

Bunting Management

Carnegie Science Center

Central High Museum

Children’s Inn At NIH

Coastal Discovery

Corcoran Gallery of Art

Delta Cultural Center

Discovery Communications

Discovery Place

Experience Music Project

Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center

Great Lakes Science Center

Greeley History Museum

International Spy Museum

Kidscommons

Lacrosse Museum and National Hall of Fame

Lakeport Plantation, Arkansas State University

Liberty Science Center

The Library of Congress

The Library of Virginia

Maryland Science Center

Mercer Museum

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center

Museum of Science and Industry

Museum of the Cherokee Strip

Museum of the Great Plains

National Air and Space Museum

National Aquarium in Baltimore

National Building Museum

National Museum of African Art

National Museum of American History

National Museum of the American Indian

National Museum of Dentistry

National Postal Museum

Natural Science Center

National Zoological Park

PNC Legacy Project

Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

Smithsonian Folklife Programs

Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services

Space Science Institute

The Tech Museum of Innovation

Telluride Historical Museum

Tudor Place Historic House and Garden

US Bureau of Engraving and Printing

US Census Bureau

US Department of Energy

US Department of Agriculture

US Food and Drug Administration

US Holocaust Memorial Museum

United States Mint at Philadelphia

Walters Art Museum

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Westmoreland American Museum of Art

White House Historical Association

Yale University Art Gallery

Putting the "Active" in Interactive

Roula Tsapalas

Senior Exhibit Designer and Developer

LEED Green Associate

What is an interactive?

Compiled from Dictionary websites :

  • allowing or relating to continuous two-way transfer of information between a user and the central point of a communication system, such as a computer or television.
  • (of two or more persons, forces, etc) acting upon or in close relation with each other; interacting.
  • mutually or reciprocally active

We in the museum world use the word interactive to apply to active participation by the visitor. Contrast interactive with active or reactive. Is pushing a button, watching a video or turning a flipbook really interactive?

A relatively simple exhibit I developed for Discovery Place, Design Your Floor Plan is a low tech example of a true interactive because of the fluid interplay of actions and reactions.

The challenge is to design the interior space of a house with a 3-dimensional floor plan, by moving walls, furniture and people. Visitors interact with each other and with the exhibit to make changes and adjust the design.

What is space to an architect? How do they design space? An architect uses many tools, from sketching to drafting to building models. I wanted to develop an activity for the visitor to think and design as an architect in a developmentally appropriate way for 8-14 year olds. Instead of a using a pencil and paper for drawing a 2-dimensional floor plan, the visitor manipulates extruded walls, furniture and people to create a 3-dimensional model for exploring space.

Through prototyping, I learned what was working and what was not. A variety of wall modules and simple block furniture maximized flexibility and versatility. The conceptual detailing of the materials allowed for personal interpretation; a low wall was used as a bed, a bed as a closet (by positioning the components upside down or sideways). By adding a few personalized and highly specific objects, such as a bike, one visitor used walls to create ramps, changing his house to fit his needs.

This particular “interactive” illustrates the design process. By exploring the possibilities, participants play with relationships between spaces and potential furnishing opportunities to create an optimal layout. There is no right answer, but instead endless possibilities for creative problem solving. They soon discover that design is fluid and always changing.

“There’s no space leftover for a bathroom, I’ll have to put this toilet in the bedroom or move some of the walls.”

“It’s O.K. if we don’t have a dining room. I like eating in the kitchen.”

“If I use this low wall, people can look into my bedroom.”

As a designer and developer, I strive to create activities for exploring content through active learning. By flipping a panel, or answering a question, one acquires information. By providing an activity for role playing and exploration, there is abundant room for self expression and experiential learning. Visitors use their hands and minds to interact with the world, to increase their understanding of the content and to reach their own conclusions.

For museums, a true interactive satisfies many goals. It provides an open-ended, visitor-driven experience, so it’s different for the visitor every time. It promotes conversations and collaboration as well as critical thinking and creativity. And most of all, it is fun and engaging for all ages.

November 2013

The Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center opened Woman Adorned: Transcending Time, Transforming Culture, which Quatrefoil designed, fabricated and installed. This exhibit explores women’s accomplishments throughout Virginia history and the connection between adornment and public persona.



Quatrefoil completed the first step of exhibitry for the grand opening of Tanger Outlets at National Harbor just outside of Washington, DC. Indoor and outdoor features, including a memorial garden and visitor center, will highlight the history of Salubria Plantation, which was built on the site in 1827.

October 2013

The traveling truck exhibit Animal Connections: Our Journey Together paid a visit to the National Mall in Washington, DC. This collaboration between Quatrefoil, the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service (SITES), and the American Veterinary Medical Association explores the human-animal bond on the farm, at home, in the wild, at the zoo and at the veterinary clinic.



The Mountain Plains Museum Association held a terrific conference in Lincoln, Nebraska. Founding Partner Abbie Chessler led a National Association of Museum Exhibitors session, Lightning Round: Design Inspirations for Your Museum 2.0. There was also a fantastic presentation from Americans for the Arts on the connection between the arts and economic prosperity.

September 2013

Sales & Marketing Director Mike Fetters attended the American Association for State and Local History annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama. Congratulations to Kyndra White-Hunt of the Palmer Museum in Palmer, Alaska, for winning our Design Consultation Drawing!

July 2013

Quatrefoil's newest collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) launched at the American Veterinary Medical Association Conference in Chicago. Animal Connections: Our Journey Together is a traveling truck exhibit that explores the human-animal bond on the farm, at home, in the wild, at the zoo and at the veterinary clinic.

June 2013

Quatrefoil Founding Partner Abbie Chessler co-led a workshop, “Planning and Designing your Museum,” at the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

May 2013

Quatrefoil had a fantastic launch of its new in-house traveling exhibit, TATTOO: Ancient Myths, Modern Meanings, at the American Alliance of Museums conference in Baltimore, MD. Thank you to everyone who came by our booth and met our guest tattoo collectors and curatorial team!
For more information, visit www.tattootheexhibition.com.


Heroes on the Half Shell, a community service project organized by the Maryland State Bar Association’s Leadership Academy, opened its Quatrefoil-designed exhibit portion at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore.

Lakeport Plantation receives an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) 2013 Leadership in History Awards.

Lakeport Plantation Receives AASLH Leadership in History Award

March 2013

Lakeport Plantation wins the 2012 Exhibit of the Year Award in the contracted category from the Arkansas Museum Association for the new exhibitry Quatrefoil designed and fabricated.

February 2013

Quatrefoil’s newest collaboration with the PNC Legacy Project opened at the Imperial Center for the Arts and Sciences in Rocky Mount, NC. The Centura Tradition: Building Community Since 1989 explores the intertwined histories of Rocky Mount and PNC’s predecessor banks, which were actively involved in building the town and community. Located in an historic building, the exhibit features artifacts from Planters, Peoples and Centura banks, photographs, and oral histories from bank employees and community leaders.

January 2013

Life Beyond Earth at the Maryland Science Center has been written up in the January/February issue of Dimensions Magazine. We were excited to see discussion of our front-end evaluations with visitors, and our work with the Maryland School for the Blind to create experiences for visitors with low vision.