Behind the Scenes: Designing Bespoke Displays

Our team met with lead exhibition contractors The Hub Limited and hybrid interactive specialists Unusual Projects to approve prototypes and materials used for some of the more bespoke display elements. Our storytelling approach extends beyond interpretation panels and digital methods, it also encompasses the 3-D design of the displays that will help reinforce display storytelling narratives.

Enhancing Accessibility and Engagement

This approach serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it aids visitors for whom English is not their first language, ensuring that our exhibits are accessible and engaging.

It also caters to visual learners who may find traditional text-based displays less effective. Because these elements are custom-made, the prototyping phase is critical to ensure that materials, finishes and effects perform as planned. You can read more about our display testing in our article Audience Feedback & Museum Digital Experience.

The Display Creation Process

The decision-making process encompasses a range of considerations, from approving colour samples used throughout the displays to examining flocking effects that form the backdrop to ‘theatrical’ artist Pat Douthwaite’s paintings. We carefully selected samples for the running track baseboard in the Athletes exhibit and deliberated over the charred wood effect for the story of Paisley Weaver and poet Alexander Wilson, known for burning many of his poems.

The team also explored various design elements, including routered effects for the William Wallace exhibit, the placement of names for the Glen Cinema tragedy, and layering techniques to represent landscape contours for the Corozal dredging story. We even considered the use of upside-down empty bottles for the plinth of the Temperance story.

Our commitment to creating unique displays led us to examine specialist sculpted resin components, crafted by sub-contractor Beaufort Bespoke, which depict the transformation of water into ice for the early years story of explorer Birdie Bowers. We also evaluated miniature, illuminated pigeon models within an ‘infinity mirror’ showcase for the story about Alexander Wilson’s recording of the now-extinct Passenger Pigeons. Additionally, we explored elements related to the Observatory Compensatory Experience and sections of the Interactive Weaving Studio.

Charred wood effect samples for the Alexander Wilson story
Testing resin lighting to simulate the transformation of water to ice in the Birdie Bowers explorer display
Glowing miniature pigeons in an 'infinity mirror' exhibit tell the story of Alexander Wilson and the extinct Passenger Pigeons
Project team testing the Observatory compensatory experience

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