Adjustable Wall Hooks

I joined the team because I’ve always loved the arts. This project gave me the opportunity to combine my love and passion for the arts with my secondary love for engineering.

Shawn P, Class of 2022


To develop adjustable picture hangers for use by professional art museums that can mount art weighing 30-100 lbs., can last 20+ years, and can work with exiting D- and J- hooks on artwork.

The Problem

The Nasher Museum often finds it difficult to hang up art exhibits level to the wall, and many times has to use 2 hooks on both corners of the piece, wasting space, time, and energy. Often times, art pieces have s “D-hooks” on the back--one on each corner--and once corresponding “J-hooks” are placed on the wall, they can no longer be adjusted. Given the high “turnover” rate of the art exhibits in the Nasher, or the high frequency of cycling of art exhibits, this problem is one that employees of the Nasher face regularly. The goal of the team is to develop a adjustable method of hanging up art exhibits on walls to ensure accuracy and ease of installation.

The Process

The team’s first step was to research everything they possibly could about their assignment. They decided they needed to forget about any predetermined notions they may have about a solution, and all completely start from scratch. They first decided to research any engineering design that moves up and down, to see if they can draw inspiration from existing solutions. Their imagination saw no limit, as they listed and researched elevators, pogo sticks, zippers and more. Eventually, their brainstorming landed them the idea of a pallet expander, often used for upper-jaw expansion in orthodontics, which through a series of elaborate screening and scoring methods, such as pugh-matrices, they decided was what they would replicate for a solution.

From the path of brainstorming to a final solution, though, the team did encounter some challenges. One of the biggest: the clash of two cultures and languages which seemed to divide the team. Two of the team members were of Korean backgrounds, their native tongues not being English. As a result, at times the team found it difficult to consolidate certain words and phrases that may be common in American culture. It seemed difficult to translate certain specific concepts and ideas between the two groups. They didn’t let this stop their path to finding a solution, though. “We knew it’d work out in the end. We’re all very smart people with a common goal for the semester, and great friendship among the team. We pushed through to make it work”, says Will I.

They did indeed make it work. With the help of their mentors Dr. Richardson and Ken Gall, they made a final solution, consisting of a hook and bolt system through which art exhibits can be adjusted vertically once mounted. Moreover, through the help of Gall, they have also successfully applied for a patent.

Their engineering hasn’t stopped there, though. “I love this project, and it’s sort of become a mission for me--to make sure our solution is the best it can possibly be. Regardless of where our patent goes, or if we make money off of it, it’s my goal to keep engineering this solution with my teammates until I’m satisfied with how it turns out.”, said John B. Four of the original team members have extended working on the project into a second semester, and are planning on elaborating on their original solution. They hope to have an improved, secondary prototype completed by the end of the semester.