Graphic and Environmental Graphic Design for the Industrial History Center, Amesbury, MA, 2020.

How did a small New England town become a leading maker of carriages, car bodies, textiles, hats, shoes, and more? How can design help bring this unique story to life? How could such efforts foster identity, support, and place? As part of a multidisciplinary design team, my Merrimack College design students, Dan Vlahos Design, and many others helped shape answers to these questions as we helped bring a new industrial history center into existence.

Starting in 2021, John Mayer, the Executive Director of the Amesbury Carriage Museum, led a fundraising and design effort to transform the ground level of a former mill factory (Mill 2) in Amesbury’s historic Upper Millyard into a lively history-focused community and exhibition space. Mayer’s vision was to make the “community a campus.” While the Industrial History Center (IHC) is indeed used for exhibits and programs, Mayer and his team viewed the entire city of Amesbury as an artifact. Thus, our design efforts were focused on supporting this mission—a contextual exploration of history, community, discovery, and the built environment.

In the Spring of 2020, my Undergraduate Graphic Design III students at Merrimack College embarked upon an experiential, community-based partnership with Mayer and his team. Working with Mayer, my students developed design concepts for signage, activities, promotions, and communications. Following this partnership, in the fall of 2020, Dan Vlahos Design teamed with Anna Farrington Graphic Arts & Design as design consultants to the IHC as they sought to develop a donor recognition system, promotional materials, and signage concepts.

The Industrial History Center officially opened to the public in October of 2021. At the project’s conclusion, Mayer remarked, “Beyond creating essential design materials, the design team really helped us understand and shape what this could be.” Years after its grand opening, the Industrial History Center has become an essential and beloved local and regional center—offering a host of exhibitions, activities, and programming for all ages.


  • John Mayer, Executive Director
  • Bonnie Brady, Program Manager
  • Gregory Colling, AIA, Architect
  • BLB Design \ Build, Builder
  • Imarc, Brand Identity Design
  • Nancy Wynn, Senior Design Advisor
  • Anna Farrington, Signage Consultant
  • Robert Dennis, Copywriter
  • Dan Vlahos, Creative Direction and Donor Systems Designer
  • Keith Ragone, Exhibit Designer
  • Harrison Markowsky, Graphic and Experience Design
  • Kira Kolodziej, Environmental Graphic Design
  • David Andrighetti, Interaction Design
  • Rylan Benedict, Visual Storytelling
  • Amesbury Carriage Museum, Portfolio Photography


Mayer, John. Looking Forward, Amesbury Carriage Museum, May 2020.

History museum in Amesbury studies how industry in the city has changed, wbur, July 2022.

Amesbury Carriage Museum welcomes warm season with Industrial History Center events,, May 2022.

Baker, B. The Amesbury miracle: How a dying mill town went through a vibrant renewal, The Boston Globe, November 2023.

FILED IN: Design Research