Geological Museum is futuristic, not ‘fusty’

For you to describe the old Geological Museum as not having had the best of press in the past is plain rubbish (News Analysis, DW 5 July).

I was head of design there from 1974 to1988. In 1972 James Gardner designed the Story of the Earth exhibition, which was the first modern thematic science gallery anywhere in the world and has been copied worldwide. The Natural History Museum came to me en masse to ask my advice before it built the human biology section. My team designed Britain Before Man in 1977 and British Fossils in 1980, both of which opened to a very good press; Treasures of the Earth in 1985 was the first national gallery to incorporate interactive computer repositories of information along with hands-on exhibits. Finally, we produced Britain’s Offshore Oil and Gas for which the central feature, a vertically shot film, received awards.

Of course, like any major national museum, we had our dull, unmodernised bits, just as the NHM does to this day; but for 15 years we led the world in exhibiting the very difficult subject of geology and were being copied worldwide.

As an exhibition designer, my work is ephemeral. I have no regrets that my team’s work is being replaced, for that is normal. However, I deeply resent the perception of the museum as “musty, dusty and fusty”. It certainly was not in my time.

Giles Velarde

Giles Velarde Associates

Pett Level

East Sussex TN35 4EF

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