Using MiniCAD, museum's exhibits staff creates designs of the galleries' halls and display cases
Artists at the Smithsonian Institution use design software that helps them create museum exhibits and compete with design companies.
One of the Smithsonian's latest exhibits, developed with MiniCAD from Diehl Graphsoft of Columbia, Md., and other state-of-the-art design technology, tells the story of John James Audubon. It showcases many of the birds and egg specimens he collected.
The Audubon exhibit at the National Museum of American History is one of the latest products of the Smithsonian Institution's Office of Exhibits Central, the technical drawing and production arm of the Smithsonian.
Designers use MiniCAD to create remarkably accurate and striking displays of everything from art by African-American women sculptors to the images of Edward S. Curtis, photographer of the Native American Project, Smithsonian officials said.
The exhibits office has been around for many years, but designers have only recently had access to software and hardware powerful enough to help them create the exhibits that wow the public visiting the Smithsonian's museums.
Exhibit designers once created intricate charts, maps and illustrations by hand, which was time-consuming and labor-intensive.
When designers decided to automate, Smithsonian artists at first tried AutoCAD from Autodesk Inc. of San Rafael, Calif., as the office's primary design tool.
But AutoCAD proved too complex for the projects, said Eve Macintyre, an exhibit designer in the exhibits office.
"The designers were...