The Original Pizza Hut Museum
On the Wichita State University Innovation Campus
With over 17,500 stores worldwide and six decades in business, Pizza Hut is one of the world’s most universally recognized and best-known restaurant brands. From its iconic architecture to its beloved products to world-changing social programming, most everyone you meet will have some sort of Pizza Hut story.
What is now a familiar feature in cities and towns across the globe began in a seemingly unremarkable 500 sq. ft. building in Wichita, Kansas. Started by brothers Dan and Frank Carney, Pizza Hut quickly became destination dining for folks in Wichita who wanted to experience the new food craze: pizza.
With the original Pizza Hut building moved to a new location on Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus and a generous donation of Pizza Hut memorabilia to the university by Dan and Gayla Carney, the WSU Foundation turned to Flint Hills Design to convert the inside of the original Pizza Hut building into an exhibit space that was at once engaging and informative.
Flint Hills Design was tasked with telling the Pizza Hut story in a way that inspired WSU students to follow the Carney brothers’ example and live lives of entrepreneurship and integrity. Working closely with WSU history, business, and museum studies faculty, FHD designed a nonlinear exhibit that delved into thematic areas of the Pizza Hut story.
The look and feel of the museum balanced the iconic reds and browns of the Pizza Hut brand with the typography and supporting visual elements of Wichita State University.
Reader rails were designed at angles to reflect both the energy of the business and to gesture back to the iconic architecture that defined the Pizza Hut look for decades.
The artifacts featured in the museum ranged from the rolling pin used by the Carney brothers at the first Pizza Hut to contemporary Pizza Hut promotional items, including a custom-made pair of sneakers that order pizza at the press of a button in the shoe’s tongue. Artifacts spanning the 60 year history of the company tell the story of risk, reward, and impeccable timing.
Given the small size of the museum and the large number of interesting memorabilia over Pizza Hut's history, a strategy for rotating displays was deemed necessary. The solution was to design cases that were easy to access on a regular basis. This enables WSU's musuem studies students to regularly rotate different artifacts from the collection as a part of their degree program.
"It's telling the story the way we want to tell it."
Pizza Hut Founder
FHD worked in tandem with Wichita State University and Envision to ensure the museum was as accessible as possible. Through the use of screen-reader friendly exhibit websites and a tactile library featuring 3d printed copies of key artifacts from across the museum, visitors with visual impairments can easily access the Pizza Hut story.
FHD also conducted extensive interviews with key stakeholders, including former Pizza Hut CEOs, suppliers, and founder Dan Carney.
FHD-produced videos featuring those interviews are integrated across the space, as well as screens featuring memorable Pizza Hut commercials.