This growing Dublin interactive studio brings to life museum and theme park exhibits

Dublin-based studio Roto has long designed and built larger-than-life museum exhibits across the U.S., from its restoration of a Boeing 727 inside the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago to the interactive fantasy spaceship inside the Space Odyssey exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The firm, which said it was already considered the largest of its kind in North America, is now growing. Roto has acquired Orlando theme park and hospitality services firm Brilliant Creative Fabrication, which counts Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Resorts and Aloft Hotels as its clients. Bringing on the 50-person Orlando firm will allow Roto to expand its planning, design and production services at museums, restaurants, hotels, zoos, aquariums and other destinations, according to the company, which already had 80 employees.

“When you build regularly for Disney, you have to have exceptional standards,” CEO Joseph Wisne told us. “We’ve always been able to deliver museum quality, and now we can also deliver Disney quality.”

Wisne said the viral, Instagram-worthy immersive Van Gogh exhibits currently ongoing across the U.S. and abroad are an example that “the demand for these exceptional public experiences is at an all-time high.”

“That’s the tip of the iceberg of what we see the industry moving toward,” Wisne said. “People are craving the idea of being together in real spaces, sharing immersive environments and supersensory experiences.”

Roto already worked across a diverse group of industries, but the acquisition of Brilliant allows the company to offer “a whole suite of additional services for theme parks,” Wisne said. Roto has previously done projects for Disney and Universal, but this takes it to a new level, he said.

Wisne is well-known in the museum exhibit world. This year he was named one of the world’s top museum influencers by museum and theme park industry publication Blooloop.

Roto clients include the National Museum of Military Vehicles, Baltimore Children’s Museum and National Museum of American History.

Wisne founded Roto in 2004, after he led the 1999 renovation at COSI in Columbus.

Growth has been considerable since that time. Back in 2009, we reported Roto had 28 full-time employees and revenue of $5 million.

This year, Wisne says annual revenue is about “five times” that. The company’s 80 full-time employees work out of a 60,000-square- foot facility in Dublin, with satellite offices in Boston and Charlotte.

“The success of the model has been undeniable,” Wisne said. "We’re now an international presence."

International projects include multiple exhibits at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, a "Magic Planet" family entertainment center at the Mall of Emirates in Dubai, and plans for a "Children’s Discovery Zone" at the King Abulaziz Center in Saudi Arabia.

Roto’s work in Columbus includes the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Ohio History Center’s Champion of Sports.

Even so, Wisne said the firm is "a bit of secret in Columbus.”

"We haven’t had to market (locally)," he said. "We’re going to be reaching out a bit more now.”

Wisne said his firm will continue to work on a wide variety of projects for unexpected clients.

“We’ve worked for a municipal water plant because they wanted to do a visitor center,” he said. “We’re talking to a brewery about doing an exhibit for them. We’re here ultimately to create genuine human connection in the built environment.”


By Hayleigh Colombo

Denver Museum Of Nature And Science Space Odyssey Gallery View
Inside the Space Odyssey exhibit at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, a project by Dublin-based Roto.