Bringing Western Wear to Life

Ideum collaborated with the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame to create an immersive and interactive exhibit.

Bringing Western Wear to Life
Woman interacts with touch table in front of wall projection of cowgirl imagery.

by Miranda Due, Project Coordinator February 18th, 2019

Ideum collaborated with the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth, Texas to create an immersive and interactive exhibit as part of the Museum’s second-floor renovation. The Immersive Design Room invites visitors to step into a room filled with projections and explore western related designs and artifacts.

The exhibit allows visitors to create custom objects by selecting pattern combinations and textures pulled from the Museum’s collection items. Ideum was challenged to create an experience that not only showcases collection items but also celebrates all of the designs in a cohesive and modern way.

(Hand holding contact sheet with multiple cowgirl images for research.)

The project began with a collaborative brainstorming session to determine what type of objects should be in the exhibit, and to what extent visitors would be able to customize their experience. Cowgirl boots, western shirts, and painted horse statues were eventually selected as the objects, and Ideum created 3D models of each to create the most visually compelling experience possible.

Ideum collaborated with the Museum to select items from their collections of western boots and shirts. Selections were made based on the stories behind the artifacts, the uniqueness of the design, and the overall cohesiveness the design could have within the full experience. Final design selections include pieces worn by Cowgirl Honorees like Fern Sawyer, Tad Lucas, and Connie Douglas Reeves.

Although each boot and shirt from the Museum’s collections has a unique style and design, western wear as a whole represents the spirit and scenery of the American West. The imagery of cacti, stars, horses, and flowers come together to paint a beautiful scene, and elements such as fringe and embroidery nod to the heritage of American Indian elements found in western wear throughout the years.

Because the designs selected represent a wide range of western fashion and time periods, Ideum designers digitized the artifact selections by meticulously illustrating all of the selected designs and processing them into 3D textures and stylized projection displays.

Ideum designer sits in front of screen digitizing artifact selections.

Ideum created lifelike textures using Substance Designer, which were then imported as textures into Unity, where the application was authored. Great care was taken to achieve nearly lifelike renders on the 3D objects.

As visitors go through their selections, stylized designs change on the projection walls to reflect the visitor’s choices. A system was developed to translate user selections into a digital tapestry that utilizes different design elements and colors.

The Immersive Design Room was one of the first exhibits to be prototyped in Ideum’s new exhibit fabrication studio. Ideum built full-scale projection walls to allow the creative team to test layouts, sizing, and function and our Media Systems group to evaluate the hardware and media blending, allowing for an easier installation.

The Immersive Design Room opened as part of the $5.5 million dollar second floor renovations at the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Ft. Worth, Texas.