How do you tell the story of a relationship between two countries spanning more than 160 years? In digital of course.

Three years ago, the Garden of the Phoenix Foundation challenged the team at envisionit to do just this. In association with Project 120 Chicago, a public-private partnership to revitalize Chicago’s South Parks and recognizing the benefits that powerful storytelling can bring to their collective efforts, we embarked on a fantastic journey into history.

And what a journey it’s been.

Partnering with key stakeholders from both groups, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Park District, we brought history to life through a digital timeline containing a full library of robust historical content, including images, photographs, videos and articles. Key chapters of the story were carefully curated, from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, to the inspiration of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Osato family’s care of the garden, and Yoko Ono’s art installation, SKY LANDING, which will be unveiled in the park this fall.

The result of 3 years of work is a boundary-pushing interactive experience that tells the story of the relationship between Japan and the U.S. as it relates to this culturally significant and historical site within Chicago’s Jackson Park. The goal for the website is to be a place of discovery and mutual understanding, just like the park itself.

And it succeeded. The website received a gold W3 award for visual appeal and silver W3 awards for education and user experience.

This digital experience was unveiled to a crowd of vested Chicagoans who gathered at The Art Institute to celebrate these initiatives to improve the South Parks and hear the story behind them. This initiative, as well as all the work that went into it, was on full display, and attendees were able to explore the richness of the timeline and get a glimpse from behind the scenes.

At our core, we are storytellers and proud citizens of Chicago. This initiative represents an opportunity for our team to express this identity in a truly unique venue, and we could not be more proud of the results. There are certainly more stories to tell, and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with The Garden of the Phoenix and Project 120.

Experience the digital timeline for yourself, plus learn more about the Garden of the Phoenix at gardenofthephoenix.org.