British Museum’s design needs

The British Museum is planning to boost the number of design consultancies it uses to create its exhibitions.

The British Museum is planning to boost the number of design consultancies it uses to create its exhibitions.

The news comes as the museum doubles its temporary and permanent gallery space with the opening on 7 December of the Great Court.

The museum is currently seeking design groups to create two shows – on Mughal Indian jewellery and the Amazon – in 2001. Pentagram Design has already been appointed to create an exhibition about Cleopatra.

This will be the first externally designed exhibition in the new Joseph Hotung Gallery, situated in the new £97.9m, Foster and Partners-designed Great Court.

“It has not been our practice in recent years to employ external design consultancies to create exhibitions, but the extra gallery space created by the Great Court means we simply have more shows,” says British Museum head of exhibitions Geoffrey House.

He says there are no fixed criteria for which events will be put out to tender or be created by the museum’s in-house design team.

Pentagram was appointed after a four-way paid creative pitch to design the entire exhibition – entitled Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth – including graphics, 3D environments and signage.

The exhibition runs from 12 April to 26 August 2001.

“It will not be a ‘themed’ show,” says Pentagram partner Lorenzo Apicella. “We aim to create an atmosphere redolent of its context and draw on abstract iconography from the Egyptian period.”

Other design groups working recently with the British Museum include London group Carte Blanche, which has created the Grenville Shop from the Grade I-listed Grenville Library, and Event Communications, which designed the Great Court exhibition.

The Great Court will increase public space in the Museum by 50 per cent, and will house an education centre, restaurant, café, galleries and shops.

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