This article originally ran in the Cleveland Daily Banner on November 18, 2018
A variety of designer, including Jonathan Martin, are working on the upcoming Christian, interactive museum Trek thru Truth.
Martin is adding his personal flair for unorthodox creations, like escape rooms, to the museum in the hopes of attracting a broader crowd.
Martin’s College Grove-based Jonathan Martin Creative, Inc. has been doing set and scenery design, fabrication and installation for more than 25 years.
The 45-year-old designer always had an interest in design, but wasn’t able to make it a profession until he was in college.
After being contacted by Doug Cawood, president of Trek thru Truth, for his company’s involvement in the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., Martin was brought on board the Cleveland attraction design team.
Martin designed a re-creation of a Nazareth village at the Museum of the Bible. It allows people to walk through, interact with products in the marketplace, hear the sounds of animals and experience how the people of the area lived at the time.
“We try to make your senses come alive. We play to the senses of smell, touch, sound, sight and taste. The other area we made was the children’s gallery, and these two things we designed are probably what peaked Doug’s interest in working with us for Trek thru Truth,” Martin said.
Martin’s company has worked with Trek thru Truth for over a year. Since many of his projects are located throughout the country, Martin appreciates the proximity of Cleveland to the Nashville area.
One of the initial and most popular ideas Cawood and Martin discussed was the inclusion of an escape room, a concept which has grown in popularity.
“Escape rooms have taken over like wildfire. This upcoming one will be based on viblical lessons. The final prize they’re searching for is the bronze, serpent staff of Moses. It’s fun and people really enjoy these,” Martin added.
Cawood and Martin are toying with the idea of developing the escape games to spread awareness of the museum.
Martin said they’ve previously created an escape room based around Paul and Silas’ time in jail.
He stressed Trek thru Truth will not be a “museum behind glass.” It will make use of numerous nontraditional methods for catching attention and engaging all of the senses by letting the visitors poke, touch, pull and play on various facets of the museum. These designs will be implemented for both famous and lesser known Bible stories from “Jonah and the whale” to “Daniel in the lions’ den.”
Bringing biblical stories to life in unexpected and unusual ways is a challenging task, as some of the only material to look at for designers is children’s book illustrations.
Martin said Trek thru Truth will showcase these stories, as well as giving a view of these stories from multiple angles through use of the five senses.
Of all the Bible stories, Martin said everyone knows a handful of them; but the upcoming museum will dig deeper than surface level and display over 52 stories in unique ways.
“It’ll be fun to explore the familiar and learn a little more about it, but also learn more about those stories we hear about, but don’t know many details. I think this’ll be a really well-rounded approach. There’s a lot in there,” he said.
The challenge of reaching children and garnering their attention is something Martin states he hears quite often due to their electronic dependence. As a result of this, he says he gets more requests for “lower tech, higher touch,” which may open the door for mechanical endeavors as opposed to electronic ones.
“These kids are walking through things and will be thinking ‘Oh that sound came from behind me, what is that?’ or ‘Oh wow, where did that come from?’ This isn’t just a 2D experience. They’re deeply immersed in it. Just because it’s low-tech doesn’t mean it’s old fashioned,” he said.
Plans are to break ground on Trek thru Truth in late 2019. The design teams are currently hard at work to bring the attraction to life while also maintaining its uniqueness.
For those interested in learning more about Martin’s past creations and to get an idea of the upcoming designs for Trek thru Truth, go to www.jonathanmartincreative.com, check out his Facebook under “Jonathan Martin Creative Inc.,” or give him a call at 918-381-4725.