Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education Center at Monticello


For the Thomas Jefferson Foundation’s award-winning Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education Center at Monticello, Charlottesville, Virginia, the home of the nation’s third president, Avitecture provided full design services for the Orientation Theater and Gallery Building, Lobby, Liberty Gallery, and other gallery spaces. Working closely with Ayers Saint Gross, the architect, and with Staples and Charles, the exhibit designer, Avitecture designed and integrated an advanced audiovisual system that provides the visitor with a rich and exciting experience.

In the Michelle Smith Gallery, the Boisterous Sea of Liberty, with 21 vertically-arrayed flat panel displays, including seven touch panels, give visitors access to more than 250 image and text displays related to political, religious and intellectual freedom.


The Words of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson’s thoughts literally come to light in this high-tech display that is as much a work of art as a vehicle for providing information. Inlaid into the bluestone floor of the Stacy Smith Liss Gallery are words – America, The Arts, Conduct, Education, Government, Knowledge, Liberty, Monticello, Progress, Reason, Religion, Rights, Science, Slavery, and Thomas Jefferson – that capture the broad scope of Jefferson’s ideas. When a visitor steps on one of the words, key phrases from a quotation related to that word are projected in light at his or her feet. Then, phrase by phrase, the full quotation moves across the floor and is projected on a wall.

Approximately 200 quotations by and about Jefferson appear in The Words of Thomas Jefferson. The words are displayed exactly as Jefferson wrote them, complete with his idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation, as transcribed by the editors of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson: Retirement Series.

The digital technology of The Words of Thomas Jefferson was developed specifically for the exhibition by the Small Design Firm of Cambridge, Mass.