British Museum unveils new £135 million wing
The British Museum’s new £135 million World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre opens to the public today.
Key to the masterplan is the opening of the new Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery which will host temporary exhibitions, starting with the museum’s first major exhibition on Vikings in 30 years, Vikings: Life and Legend.
The World Conservation and Exhibition Centre is located in the north-west corner of the museum’s Bloomsbury estate. It has been designed by architect Rogers Stirk Harbour and Partners and comprises the new exhibitions gallery, laboratories, studios and storage for the collection.
The new work has been tied together with a wayfinding system devised by Whybrow Signing Consultants, which says it was appointed in June 2013 to review internal visitor information and wayfinding, and to improve navigation within the Great Court and to and from the new World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre and Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery.
Front of house visitor information, permanent and temporary signage in the Great Court and visitor flow routes were all encompassed within the brief.
Whybrow’s Ian Whybrow says, ‘The Great Court’s wayfinding was cluttered and lacked focus, impeding visitor navigation.’ As a solution around half of the existing totems were removed to improve clarity and accessibility he says.
‘We also introduced a physical hierarchy throughout the scheme with high level promotional banner graphics in the Great Court and lower level wayfinding and information graphics,’ says Whybrow.
The visiting exhibition graphics have been aligned with those used in the temporary and permanent signage, ‘reinforcing the British Museum’s overall brand identity,’ adds Whybrow.
Richard Kindersley was commissioned to stone carve the Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery threshold signage.
Lumsden Design has designed a shop which sits between the entrance of 1000m2 Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery and the Egyptian Sculpture gallery.
It will carry a range of merchandise sold in the other shops, as well as Viking-themed gifts and paraphernalia.
Lumsden Design says, ‘The new shop has a strong visual personality of its own, aligned closely to the architecture of the new building and the more premium product mix.’
The 188m2 space is dominated by floor-to-ceiling columns that have been integrated into the design. A monochrome palette has been applied which includes units made from black stained oak with contrasting polished white Armourcast tops which can be arranged in different formations.
Lumsden Design says, ‘A bespoke tiered merchandising system of display tables with integral storage, grouped around the columns.
‘A metal ladder tower wraps the columns, giving flexibility to display product and promotional graphics relating to each current exhibition. A series of bespoke freestanding wall cabinets have been created, incorporating flexible glass shelving.’
It is the fifth shop Lumsden has designed for the museum and will be followed by a sixth in early summer.