The Pitt Rivers Museum, an archaeological and anthropological trove in Oxford, has enlisted Holmes Wood to design a signage scheme as part of a £3.8m extension at the venue.
Holmes Wood has been briefed to create internal and external signage that will aid use of the space and collections by the public, students and researchers. The museum is renowned for the seemingly chaotic nature of the collection, where objects are organised and grouped by form or purpose rather than by geographical or cultural origin.
‘The museum is often described, usually favourably, as chaotic. It is dark and crowded with packed cases spread over three floors,’ says Holmes Wood project director Kirsty Morrison.
Holmes Wood was appointed to the project after a credentials presentation against undisclosed competitors. It will begin work at the end of the month and the scheme is expected to be completed later this summer when the Pitt Rivers Research Centre – the 2000m2 extension designed by Pringle Richards Sharratt Architects – will bring new public, academic and curatorial facilities to the museum.
‘The challenge is to come up with a scheme that can work in both the old traditional part of the museum and in the new extension. It should always be clear that it is the Pitt Rivers Museum that is talking to you,’ says Holmes Wood director Lucy Holmes.
Signage will also take into account future changes to the site, which may include restoring the museum entrance to its original layout. The project is being funded through a grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Wolfson Foundation.
According to a spokeswoman for Pitt Rivers, the museum’s in-house team will create displays for the new extension and further design consultancy appointments are not anticipated. The arrangement of the main collection will not be redeveloped, she adds.
PITT RIVERS MUSEUM
• Founded in 1884 when General Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers gave his collection of 20 000 archaeological and anthropological artefacts to the Museum of Oxford
• Owned by Oxford University and attached to the Museum of Natural History
• Collection now consists of about 500 000 objects, photographs and sound recordings from throughout human history
• Depending on funding grants, future plans may include redevelopment of the shop and entrance area to the museum