RFA Designers to make history with museum job

RFA Designers has had final concepts approved for the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum, which is due to open in Bristol in September. The project is worth close to £100 000 in fees to the consultancy.

The museum, which has been in planning and development for almost ten years, will offer a broadranging history looking at the impact of the Empire, says museum director Gareth Griffiths.

Griffiths says the sensitivity of the subject meant RFA Designers was given a detailed brief.

‘We don’t want to trivialise the subject. It’s an extremely important topic to different groups of people and we wanted to make sure we didn’t just take a British approach, that we were also looking outside Britain for material to tell the story,’ he says.

The museum aims to offer a non-jingoistic review of the Empire and Commonwealth and how it relates to multicultural Britain today, says RFA Designers director Richard Fowler.

‘The design uses vistas to create excitement, audio visuals in an educational way and reconstructions to offer a journey through the subject. It’s an object heavy, analytical study, not a fun palace,’ he says.

‘The museum is in Bristol’s Temple Mead station, an Isambard Kingdom Brunel-designed, listed structure, and the design aims to make sympathetic use of the building’s architectural statements and the industrial feel of the interior,’ Fowler adds.

RFA Designers was appointed last July following a credentials pitch against seven other groups.

Meanwhile, Spiral Productions has this week been appointed to produce the audio visual material for the museum. The appointment follows a four-way creative pitch in May.

The work includes an introductory film, nine video programmes and five computer interactives.

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