Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

During complete closure for essential electrical work the museum needed to partially open for the Commonwealth Games. We were approached review the empty Gallery and work with BMAG curators and creative community partners to re-purpose the spaces.

We worked closely, and quickly with the teams to scope out each space, plan building new walls, design graphics and the display of objects for a series of six, very different, community lead pop-up displays. Featuring artworks and objects from the vast Birmingham collection, interactive areas with feedback stations, plus walk in film booths and audio showers, the themes for each exhibition was completely different and required their own identity.

The design approach needed to be bold but also give those visiting expecting the ‘normal’ offer a fulfilling new experience. We worked directly with the community partners, each with varying degrees of experience of curating/design. From transforming a pre-made display for In The Que to meeting the Sauvage K’lub in New Zealand over Zoom as they could not travel. We advised and supported their project development during the whole design journey.

The final part of the puzzle was ‘The Bridge’. Our suggestion was that people would wonder where everything was as 70% of the museum was still closed. “Dear Museum” hosted some of the star objects and gave an opportunity to show off the wider collection. We designed and printed a giant mosaic wallpaper to run the length of both walls featuring highlights from the collection. The wallpaper allowed for text panels and cases to be placed over the top, creating a depth to the display. We also designed an activity area, asking visitors what their favourite thing is and to write a message to the museum. Engagement levels were high and multiple reprints of the cards were needed.

This project required working to strict health and safety guidelines during the install and site visits as the building was a working building site, closed to the public, up until a few days before opening.

Photos by Birmingham Museums Trust

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