February 2023 Project Spotlight | Forest County Potawatomi Museum

February 27, 2023

The Forest County Potawatomi (FCP) Museum is a full interior renovation of the museum located on the Forest County Potawatomi Reservation. The project consists of a new floorplan to create a more efficient path and exhibits that display the artifacts in a more interactive and up-close way for patrons.

The project commenced in January 2021 with full demolition of the existing museum. Remediation efforts and removal of the electrical and HVAC systems also expanded into adjacent parts of the building including the cultural center and library.

An upgraded electrical system now runs throughout the building that feeds into a new transformer. The unit is backed up by a new generator to ensure peace of mind and power to the entire building in case of power outages or other similar crises.

A new HVAC system also runs throughout the building which includes new air handling units, ducts, a chiller, and a climate control system. The climate control system is fitted and programmed to meet Smithsonian Institute Design Standards, which is a set of codes that standardize the approach to designing and equipping museums and similar facilities to the highest professional standards.

The FCP engaged Bluewater Studio to design the new layout of the museum. Bluewater is a full-service design firm that specializes in creating exhibits and environments for cultural institutions. Greenfire’s collaborative efforts with the firm began with filling in select window and exhibit openings to create a white-box space. New construction includes metal stud exhibits which are strategically placed throughout the open floorplan to generate a natural flow of direction. The exhibits display Potawatomi regalia, historical artifacts, tribal photos, and a timeline and future path of the Tribe.

There are several large circular displays that provide a natural breaking point which invite patrons to walk into the exhibit and view artifacts in a surrounding environment. New standalone exhibits and glass displays percolate the museum floor to aide in patron flow. The scope also includes new track lighting which create dramatic and key light effect for viewing the displays and artifacts. A new epoxy floor provides the final touch that ties in the Tribal colors which represent the circle of life. The project finished in March 2021.

“We have so many tribal members today who are succeeding today that we wanted to recognize everybody,” said Museum Director Donald Keeble. Vice Chairwoman Heather Vanzile expressed her thoughts about the renovation, “We believe in the importance of sharing our culture with different communities and being able to relate and develop good relationships.”

We are proud to take an active role in the renovation of the FCP cultural museum. We would like to recognize the hard work and dedication of our project team John Chinault, senior project manager, Scott Earley, superintendent, and Mark McCloskey, superintendent. We would like to thank our owner, the Forest County Potawatomi, for selecting Greenfire as their construction manager.

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