Museum of London in £9m design rethink

Ahead of its £18m refurbishment, the Museum of London expects to more than double the size of its in-house design team and appoint a cluster of external consultancies. It will also redesign its brand identity to better represent the other museums in the group.

The museum is anticipating ploughing £9m – about half of its budget – into design work, and is planning to hold a series of pitches this autumn to spearhead a diverse range of design-led projects, to support the radical revamp of the 1976 building in the City of London, by architect Wilkinson Eyre.

The move to revitalise the museum – which will reopen in 2009 – is being overseen by its director, Professor Jack Lohman. ‘This project is not about architecture, it is about exhibition design. It is not about freshening up. It will be a dramatic change,’ he says.

Lohman will bring in external designers to review how the work is progressing. The scheme will increase the exhibition space by 25 per cent, as well as introduce a glass-fronted gallery, information zone, learning centre, theatre and café.

The museum’s in-house team is redesigning exhibition graphics and 3D elements and will expand significantly to handle the task. The organisation will also appoint a number of design consultancies to create installations and interactive elements, which will be scattered throughout the reconfigured space. This will include ‘muscle-media’ objects, such as a sound and light show, more detailed, smaller-scale interactive displays and hands-on interactive push-button installations.

‘We will be thinking hard about the objects we use and about creating storytelling elements, rather than just focusing on the displays themselves,’ says Gail Symington, lead exhibition designer at the Museum of London.

Artists will be commissioned to create bespoke design pieces for the ‘dead spaces’ in the museum, such as staircases, she adds.

In the long term, the museum plans to redesign its central garden court and appoint a landscape consultancy to the task.

Separately, Lohman expects to hold a pitch next year to appoint a consultancy to rebrand its existing Pentagram-designed identity.

‘We need to capture the full range of activities and destinations and make reference to that,’ he says.

MUSEUM OF LONDON – £18m REDEVELOPMENT:

• Graphics, exhibition and 3D design – in-house design team

• Interactive and audio-visual design – consultancies to be appointed

• Pitch next year to redesign brand identity

• External designers will be brought in to advise on design work progress

• Project architect – Wilkinson Eyre Architects

• Part of wider group comprising the Museum in Docklands, Museum of London Archaeology Service and the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre

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