More Than Just A Working River Cultural Center
The Museum is a collaborative effort of eight partner organizations with nearly 500 years of combined experience educating, entertaining and supporting culture in the Peoria area. Developed on a 6.8 acre downtown riverfront site, in association with Zimmer Gunsul Frasca, it includes a new Visitor Center for Caterpillar’s world headquarters located across the street.
The Peoria Riverfront Museum is a public museum of art, science and culture. Containing a planetarium, a giant screen theater, exhibits, collections, educational classes, and public outreach. The museum, opened in October 2012 and has become a destination and catalyst for the riverfront area. A specialty resource of the museum is the "Illinois River Encounter." This is a family-oriented gallery that attempts to be the definitive aquarium of the Illinois River, which flows adjacent to the museum. Nearby signage and display structures describe the ecology, social history, and engineering of the working river.
The design of the Museum is conceived as a solid mass that has been strategically carved to reveal a softer sinuous interior. At the entries, large expanses of glass are used to allow views through the lobby to the river. Vertical slices in the envelope are leveraged to allow for natural light to permeate into the galleries, as well as to animate the otherwise stoic facades.
The planning diagram features the main public areas centrally located with 3 armatures, creating a clear circulation path. The giant screen theater anchors the northwest corner of the site, with the other two gallery wings framing an elevated plaza above the parking garage below. At the eastern end of the gallery wing, the planetarium punctuates the termination of the east-west corridor. At night, color-changing LED lights animate the perforated metal clad concrete drum. The Museum has received a LEED Gold certification.
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