Earth Galleries show Dome how to do it

Back to the Greenwich Dome, where talk is still of bad communication and lack of co-ordination. Now we have a new model to compare it with – the Natural History Museum’s Earth Galleries, which opened officially last week – where a handful of designers, a couple of which have also been involved in the Dome, have produced very different exhibits based around a central theme.

The big difference between the two projects is that there appears to be a design strategy behind the Earth Galleries, situated within a stone’s throw of the original Hyde Park site of the Great Exhibition of 1851. The design of the consumption-oriented Earth Today and Tomorrow gallery by Land Design Studio, for example, is poles apart from David Bentheim’s bejewelled Earth’s Treasury, and we hear the inevitable stories of budgets being cut and time being tight. But stylistic differences between exhibits add rhythm to an installation so packed with data that a less varied scheme might dull visitors’ senses.

We have yet to see in any detail what the Dome designers have to offer – and to have it confirmed what Bentheim, and others in original design line-up are actually working on. Judging by the glimpses we’ve had so far, we can expect variety. But, as the designers involved claim to know as little about the overall contents as we do, we can only hope that the exhibition will work as a piece, not least in fundamentals such as fire exits and electrics.

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