Perot Museum

Staircase Project

Winner Announced

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science, in partnership with the African American Museum, Dallas, is excited to announce that local architect and emerging artist Daniel M. Gunn is the winner of the Staircase Project design competition. In addition to a $5,000 prize, Gunn’s larger-than-life image, titled GIANT STEPS – Celebrating Extraordinary Achievements of African-American Leaders in STEM, has been installed on the Perot Museum’s multi-story, outdoor staircase facing Field Street, and will remain in place through Memorial Day.

Learn more about the visionary STEM leaders featured in the design with the link below.

 Learn More

Daniel M. Gunn – Artist Statement

Born to create. Inspired to elevate. Creating art has been my passion since I was a child. I picked up a pencil at the age of 5 and have been drawing and painting ever since. As an artist, I tend to absorb everything around me and allow it to manifest in my artwork. Music, people, places, and memories serve as my catalyst to create. My background in architecture and design also plays a pivotal role in some of the work that I create. 

The past and present African-American leaders in STEM that I chose to portray in my art submission are George Washington Carver, Shirley Ann Jackson, Dr. Charles Drew, Katherine Johnson, Mae C. Jemison, Otis Boykin, Mary Winston Jackson, Norma Merrick Sklarek, and Paul Revere Williams. All of these leaders have accomplished amazing feats in their respective fields. While contemplating who I wanted to depict in my art submission I decided to shed light on a couple of people who were less obvious – Paul Revere Williams and Norma Merrick Sklarek. Paul Revere Williams was a prominent African-American architect based in Los Angeles, CA, who is known for designing several landmark buildings that helped to shape the city of L.A. including many private residences for celebrities. Norma Merrick Sklarek was the first African-American woman to pass her license exam to officially become an architect in both New York and California. She is also known for co-founding the largest woman-owned architecture firm in the United States back in 1985 and became the first African-American woman to co-found an architectural practice.

These two trailblazers paved the way for me and many other African-American men and women to pursue careers in architecture. I was compelled to include these significant figures in architecture because African-Americans are not very visible in the field of architecture. In fact, only about 2 percent of all the architects in the United States are Black. That number is even smaller for Black women practicing architecture at only 0.4 percent. I know this first hand from having over a decade of experience in the practice of architecture. As a STEM professional and artist, I felt that I had to enter this competition. I’m also a bit of an architecture nerd so the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is one of my favorite buildings in Dallas. I hope that my design will inspire many African-American boys and girls to pursue a career in architecture and other STEM careers someday.

Daniel Gunn - Dallas based architect and visual artist

Artist Bio

I am an emerging visual artist and designer originally from Birmingham, Alabama. My ability to draw was discovered at an early age by my teachers and parents. As a kid, I began to enhance my drawing skills by analyzing and studying the techniques of various works of art that I came across. After residing in Birmingham for 10 years, I relocated with my family to Fort Dix, New Jersey. My love of art and drawing continued throughout middle school and high school. In 1998 I enrolled in the Art, Advertising, and Design program at Burlington County Institute of Technology in Medford, New Jersey. After living on the East Coast for several years, I would eventually discover another interest which was architecture. In 2001, I relocated with my family to central Louisiana. It was a tremendous culture shock to me after living up north for so long. It was during my senior year of high school that I decided to pursue my interest in architecture and would be accepted into the School of Architecture at Louisiana Tech University. While studying architecture, I worked as an intern architect during the summers. In 2008 I received a Bachelor of Architecture from Louisiana Tech University. I currently reside in Dallas and work at an award-winning architecture firm located downtown. When I’m not busy designing buildings by day, I am honing my skills with the paintbrush on canvas by night.

Contest Details

Spotlighting African American Leaders In Science Past and Present

 In partnership with the African American Museum, Dallas, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is conducting a call for entries for a staircase commission to create a vibrantly colored and eye-catching site-specific creative design that celebrates African-American leaders in science – from history and modern day – who have made significant contributions to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

The creative design will be reproduced on weatherproof, vinyl materials and professionally installed on the Perot Museum’s large, multi-story outdoor staircase facing Field Street, a main thoroughfare into Downtown Dallas.

Contest Prize: $5,000
Submission Fee: Free




Contest Timeline

September 30, 2020: Submissions begin
October 30, 2020: Deadline for submissions
December 1, 2020: Winner will be notified


Lauren Cross, Ph.D., MFA, Program Coordinator & Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary Art and Design Studies, College of Visual Art and Design, University of North Texas

Marvin Dulaney, Ph.D., deputy director and chief operating officer of the African American Museum, Dallas, and former chairman of the history department at The University of Texas at Arlington

Byron Sanders, president and CEO, Big Thought

Linda Silver, Ed.D., Eugene McDermott Chief Executive Officer, Perot Museum of Nature and Science

Arthur Simmons, Quality Systems Management | Processes & Analytics, Texas Instruments