Royal Cornwall Museum seeks designer for geological exhibition

Valued between £300,000 to £400,000, the project will involve the delivery of the exhibition design scheme and improved interpretation for the museum’s mineral collection.

Royal Cornwall Museum has launched a tender for the design of a major long-term exhibition titled Minerals and Mining, highlighting the museum’s significant collection of minerals and the importance of geology in Cornwall.

After several years of financial uncertainty, Royal Cornwall Museum has now secured bridge funding and had capital grant funding confirmed to invest in the development of the museum. With these funds, it plans to improve the museum’s sustainability, physical spaces, visitor experience, and audience engagement, according to the brief.

By 2026 the Royal Cornwall Museum says it plans to be “a compelling visitor destination” and “a vibrant, thriving multi-arts community hub” that will attract over 60,000 visitors a year.

Courtesy of Royal Cornwall Museum

Minerals and Mining will be situated in the Rashleigh Mineral Gallery and is valued between £300,000 and £400,000 with an expected lifespan of 10-15 years. Key deliverables are a detailed design specification developed collaboratively with the brand design team, delivery of the exhibition design scheme in response to the brief, and an improved interpretation for the mineral collection.

The project will also include the design, installation, content and set-up of a digital learning lab and exhibition lighting.

As well as making people to be aware of Cornwall’s geological landscape, the brief also asks that the exhibition helps visitors to understand how it is “intrinsically linked to life in Cornwall in the past, present and our future”. The chosen design must seek to enhance the “traditional feel of the existing galley” with a combination of storytelling, showcases and digital learning, says Royal Cornwall Museum.

Courtesy of Royal Cornwall Museum

Three key themes should be addressed through the exhibition: geological landscape and the minerals of Cornwall; mining in Cornwall and its social and environmental impacts, historic to present day, and our connections across the globe; and mineral collecting and key people behind the collection. The exhibition will house collections and content developed by the museum in partnership with other institutions and partners.

Repurposing existing wooden display cases, considering sustainability and longevity in equipment and fixtures is crucial and using sustainable materials is crucial, as the museum looks to minimise waste and reduce its carbon footprint.

Royal Cornwall Museum requires every object to be accompanied by a physical label, with digital interpretation to enhance certain storytelling elements. A digital lab should be incorporated into the design, says the brief, creating space for expert talks to be live streamed, for live demonstrations using our collections and for film. The lab will support general visitors, special events and school workshops, with flexible seating to support different events.

Courtesy of Royal Cornwall Museum

Local people, families, school groups and tourists who already visit the museum are part of its target audience for the exhibition, but Royal Museum Cornwall also want to ensure that the exhibition “attracts and supports researchers” and those with “multi-sensory needs”.

Applications must be submitted by midday on 18 October 2023. The contract is due to start on 17 November 2023 and run until 30 June 2024.

The brief and application documents can be found here.


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