Holmes Wood rationalises Dulwich Picture Gallery signs

Dulwich Picture Gallery has appointed London design consultancy Holmes Wood to review its visitor wayfinding.

Holmes Wood was appointed to the project three weeks ago, following an initial credentials pitch. It is the first time the gallery has reviewed these logistics since the completion of its £8m refurbishment programme.

The gallery – which was designed as the first purpose-built public gallery in England by Sir John Soane – has drafted in the consultancy to create a revised wayfinding and sign scheme, including a plan to redraw the graphics. The system will be implemented across the gallery’s external landscape as well as its internal spaces.

The wayfinding scheme that is currently in place does not address the navigation issues thrown up by the refurbishment scheme completed five years ago by Rick Mather Architects, which added an extension to the site that included a café, a lecture theatre and education facilities.

‘We did not notice how bad the signage had become,’ says a spokeswoman for the Dulwich Picture Gallery.

The aim of this project is to better link up the different areas of the gallery and make visitors more aware of the gallery’s recently added facilities.

The new system will impose a rational way of locating everything inside the gallery, improving navigation in general.

‘There were difficulties for visitors to find their way around the gallery. We want the changes to make a radical difference to the Dulwich Picture Gallery, without being too in your face,’ adds the spokeswoman.

Alex Wood, director at Holmes Wood, explains the ‘complications’ involved in moving between the gallery’s various spaces.

‘This building is considered the ideal picture gallery,’ she says. ‘The refurbishment by Mather was very elegant, yet there was no real sign scheme linking the different areas of the gallery following the refurbishment to bring together the different elements, such as the permanent exhibition space and the gallery’s new facilities.’

Holmes Wood is starting a consultation phase this week to ‘put together a strategy to improve the visitor experience’, adds Wood.

A date for completion has not yet been set, but once proposals have been put forward the gallery must raise funds in order to implement the work.

Holmes Wood has worked on wayfinding for many of the UK’s leading museums and galleries, such as Tate Britain, Tate Modern, The National Gallery and The Victoria & Albert Museum.

In addition to housing the Dulwich Picture Gallery’s permanent collection, the venue runs more than three temporary exhibitions a year.

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The Dulwich Picture Gallery houses paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, including major works by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn, Peter Rubens, Thomas Gainsborough, Nicolas Poussin, Giovanni Canaletto, Guido Reni and Giovanni Tiepolo. For more information, visit www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk

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