Heritage Motor Centre in £250 000 makeover

Warwickshire’s Heritage Motor Centre is to reopen in May, showcasing an exhibition designed by Haley Sharpe Design and a modernised site developed by Metz Architects.

Leicester consultancy Haley Sharpe Design was appointed to the project last December, following a two-way pitch against an undisclosed London group. Work began in January, with about £250 000 of funding for exhibition design and build, and the same amount allocated to architectural construction.

‘With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we wanted to open up the museum space so that we could show more of our collections and archive materials, using a narrative-based, storytelling approach. The thrust was really to improve the overall visitor experience,’ says Tim Bryan, head of collections and interpretation at the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, operator of the museum.

Bryan says that the simplicity of the exhibition design and structure were important parts of the brief. ‘It’s about maximising the collections and showing a lot of work within a small space,’ he says.

The museum has been transformed from a large open hall into a space with graphic and photography displays, as well as a new mezzanine area that will accommodate a collection of nine cars that were ‘pioneering in design’. The colours of the space are simple, using white walls, while a glass structure encasing the lift allows for additional display space.

Bryan explains that the exhibition will also focus less on the technology of cars and more on the ‘narrative’ behind the evolution of the motor industry. Archive photography, video, graphics and anecdotal evidence are used to illustrate this.

Despite the shift in focus – from technology to heritage – the exhibition does feature an interactive display, aimed at children, which attempts to explain the technology behind steering, brakes and suspension.

The Heritage Motor Centre, owned by Ford Motor Company, receives 130 000 visitors a year.

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