Exhibition designers bring Time and Space Project to life

The Royal Observatory in Greenwich next week reveals the first gallery overhaul in its £15m Time and Space Project, featuring design work by Casson Mann and Thomas Matthews.

Casson Mann has designed three of the four time galleries, after being appointed to the project just over a year ago. The galleries – Time and Longitude, Time and Greenwich and Time for the Navy – explore the story of precision timekeeping and how it has influenced society. Thomas Matthews was appointed in July 2005 to design the fourth gallery, Time and Society.

‘One of the museum’s objectives is to try to display as many of its objects as possible and the design challenge was to come up with a more exciting way of showing these than just using object and caption,’ says Thomas Matthews partner Kristine Matthews. ‘So we have given the display cases a dimensional, graphic treatment, where some objects project forwards and others recede.’

The galleries will double the number of objects on display, adding artefacts that have never been exhibited before, according to the Royal Observatory. The space will include a horology conservation studio, where visitors can watch conservators at work.

As part of the Time and Space Project, architect Allies & Morrison has designed the 120-seat Peter Harrison Planetarium and astronomy centre, which will open in spring 2007. Thomas Matthews is designing the space galleries for the astronomy centre and its design guidelines will be extended to the planetarium building, says Matthews.

The redevelopment of the observatory’s 17th century buildings at the National Maritime Museum is funded through the Millennium Commission’s £33m ReDiscover programme.

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