Will Alsop’s Public Gallery, which opens this month, allows visitors to experience visual art noisily. As museums evolve from being quiet places of contemplation, what types of spaces do you imagine designers will be creating for the museum-going public in the future?
In the competitive world of visitor attractions, museums are getting more inventive in how they tell their stories. To increase, or even sustain, footfall, it’s no longer enough just to tell. They have to deliver a unique experience greater than TV, film or the Web can offer. This is a great opportunity for designers to exercise their imaginations and bring learning to life. So, instead of reading about the past, we will virtually revisit it.
Garry Blackburn, Partner, Rose
Museums are places where people want and need to go to see and hear about the creations of exceptional people with exceptional knowledge and talent. Deciding what is exceptional and what should be displayed is not up to designers. Their job is to come up with exceptional solutions for displaying objects effectively to an increasingly demanding public. There will always be different spaces designed to work with different displays, but these will be pulled together by designs that are confident, durable, challenging and less condescending than in the past.
Lucy Holmes, Creative director, Holmes Wood
Museums will be increasingly designed with an emphasis on the quality of horizontal, rather than just vertical, ideas. That is to say, more care and attention will be paid to them as places for the public to gather in different groups, to partake of specially curated events, shows and activities, rather than simply as spaces in which to place and hang things. Nonetheless, spaces exclusively set aside for quiet contemplation will continue to be a vital ingredient in their overall design.
Ken Arnold, Head of public programmes, Wellcome Trust
For me, the enduring success of museums is about ‘the power of the real’, the power of the collective experience. I think that the visionaries of the public raise the issue of digital experiences being embedded within the physical architecture. Now that the Nintendo Wii, the iPhone and Microsoft Surface are commonplace, the digital domain could be better exploited using software architecture that extends the ‘real’ experience significantly into the Web. In my view, this real/virtual hybrid is the future for our museums.
Peter Higgins, Creative director, Land Design Studio