National Media Museum seeks artwork for Life Online

Concept design for National Media Museum’s Life Online gallery

The National Media Museum in Bradford is seeking concepts for an artwork that will help shape the design of its new Life Online galleries, which will examine the social, technological and cultural impact of the Internet.

The Life Online galleries, which will comprise a ground-floor permanent gallery designed by Manchester-based NRN Design and a seventh-floor programmable exhibition space with design from Start JG, are set to open in March 2012.

The museum in partnership with the Future Everything festival has now launched a £10 000 open commission for a new artwork to be the first in a series installed in Start JG’s gallery. The artwork will have to fit in with the launch exhibition, which will be titled Open Source.

Life Online content curator Sarah Crowther says, ’The first special exhibition will explore the Internet’s culture of openness, sharing and collaboration, from Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s dream of a “common information space” to the role we play within it.’

She adds, ’We are seeking imaginative, ambitious and inspirational artworks that respond to the open-source theme, particularly those that involve audience participation and interaction suitable for both children and adults and possibly with an online presence to complement the physical display.’

The deadline for entries to the competition is 27 July and applications are open through the National Media Museum’s website. It is hoped a winner will be announced in August.

Crowther says the idea for the gallery came about after the museum expanded its remit following its name change in 2006 it was formerly known as the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. She says, ’There was a strong feeling we should be doing something looking at the Internet.’

Crowther adds, ’We looked at initial concepts to do a gallery online, but it became apparent that we should do a physical space. There are existing galleries and spaces that look at the Internet, but none that look at its social impact.’

Following a tender process, NRN Design was appointed in October 2010 to work on the design for the permanent gallery, which will be in the museum’s foyer.

rowther says, ’The space will have lots of interactives we will be looking to get visitors interacting. There will, for example, be a video wall which will display visitors and lots of video content, such as classic viral videos.’

She adds, ’We’re hoping to get a good balance between objects and screen-based interactives.’

The programmable exhibition space, which is being designed by Start JG, will be in a level seven space, which is currently a corporate area.

Start JG executive creative director David Judge says, ’Start JG will create an environmental experience for visitors that will express open-source culture versus the threat of net neutrality.’

Crowther suggests that the artwork concepts could look to link the permanent and temporary galleries together and also have an interactive element to engage people online.

The intention is for the artworks to be replaced year-by-year on a rolling basis.

Life Online commission

  • A £10 000 commission is available for the artwork, to cover artist, production and development fees
  • The deadline for submissions is 27 July, and applications can be made through
  • The jury includes Future Everything director Drew Hemment and Wired magazine editor-at-large Ben Hammersley
  • A winner will be chosen in August and the artwork will be in place for the gallery opening in March 2012
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