Metaphor wins Ashmolean Museum job

Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum has appointed London exhibition design consultancy Metaphor to create the gallery displays at its new-look complex, which is being redesigned by Rick Mather Architects.

Metaphor was appointed to the three-year project at the end of last month, following multiple pitches against seven international groups, including: Casson Mann, Real Studios, Applebaum and Land Design Studio. The final shortlist was whittled down to Casson Mann and Metaphor, with the latter awarded the work for an undisclosed fee. The task is to create displays for the Ashmolean’s multiple collections – some 60 000 objects – which will be exhibited in 40 interconnecting gallery spaces inside the museum, due to reopen in 2009.

‘Mather’s building has given us a good background to create some beautiful displays,’ says Metaphor design director Stephen Greenburg.

The architect has created a strategy that will optimise the use of space in the complex of buildings behind the museum’s main entrance façade, and add extensive new gallery space and a revised ‘primary route’.

‘There will be some film involved in the exhibition design, but it is largely an object museum. The Ashmolean is about crossing times and civilisations, and its content gives us a great opportunity to engage the audience,’ says Greenburg.

The Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology

• One of the oldest public museums in the world – founded in 1683

• One of the main museums of the University of Oxford

• Five curatorial departments: Antiquities, Casts (from sculpture), Eastern Art, Coin Room, Western Art

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