Design in 2020 — what will exhibition design look like?

As part of our series on design in 2020, Gitta Gschwendtner, exhibition designer, looks at what will happen in exhibition design over the next 12 months.

What do you think 2020 will hold for exhibition design?

I fear that we are facing a bleak future with Boris Johnson as prime minister for another 5 years and Brexit looming. I therefore think that exhibitions will need to provide much needed escapism. We are not in a recession yet and budgets aren’t completely depleted so there may well be a last hurrah before it gets truly grim. I could envision that 2020 will bring extravagant immersive exhibitions that take the visitors outside of reality and inject a bit of fantasy into their lives. I imagine that the V&A’s forthcoming exhibition about Alice in Wonderland Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser will hit this spot.

The Asset Strippers. Courtesy of Tate Photography, Mike Nelson.

What was your favourite exhibition design project in 2019 and why?

In contrast to my opulent exhibition prediction for 2020, my favourite show of 2019 was Mike Nelson’s The Asset Strippers at Tate Britain. I absolutely loved the decommissioned industrial machinery, handsome and greasy, telling stories of past production and visions of society. Mike Nelson played homage to the Duveen Galleries’ origins as the first purpose-built sculpture galleries in England and elevated the industrial machines to works of art. Placed in the stunning central galleries, they became beautiful and proud markers of a lost time. Their placement and juxtaposition were genius too.

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