For a project centered on the Rau Photography Collection, the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art engaged Riverside Design to design a gallery and storage facility. Located in the ground floor of a Historic Landmark building in Altoona, PA, the renovation was a joint effort between SAMA, the Railroaders Memorial Museum, and the Altoona Library.

The objective of the three institutions was to create a local museum facility to house a collection of rare turn of the century albumen prints by railroad photographer William Rau.

We drew inspiration from Altoona’s railroad industrial heritage and the railroad esthetic promoted in Rau’s photographs. The Gallery’s subtle barrel vault and long rectangular plan suggest a railroad car interior. Innovative use of industrial materials such as perforated aluminum screens to hang the photographs give a level of transparency to the photographs display. The Gallery has a dramatic feeling of light and spaciousness that is unusual for a windowless photography gallery.