The Great Exhibitions are milestones in social and industrial history, visually represented by icons such as Crystal Palace, Skylon and the Dome of Discovery, even after these buildings have gone from their sites.
The architecture, however, is not the single end product – look where the Victoria & Albert Museum and the South Bank came from. These aren’t site specific either, the V&A Red exhibition in Glasgow and South Bank Touring ensure this. We should therefore look beyond criticism of The Dome as a one-off exhibition and put energy into generating a future vision. We need a tangible process to take the Dome beyond its current physical status.
The Dome appears to be primarily an educational experience. Filled with social messages, conveyed sometimes with wit such as in the Living Island Zone, other times with an overload of techniques for communicating words as inside the Faith Zone. Could this learning centre remain and extend its function as an educational service?
The presentation of messages and statements is all very well, but where is the content and who are the curators ensuring history is represented by more than a three-dimensional storyboard? High spend is evident in communication through interactive devices, information-technology and lighting techniques, but one of the most impressionable installations for my companion visiting the Dome was the double decker bus; it is ‘not messed with’ and makes a simple statement of scale and time with empathy for many who notice it. Interactives can interpret, but can’t replace real things – I agree with the comments made by Mark Magidson (Letters, DW 25 February). The Journey Zone uses real objects as well as structure for its subject, giving a unique and memorable learning opportunity.
A coherent vision of content was missing and this is reflected in the design within The Dome. I hope we can learn from all of this to give the Dome a clear future.
Reading Museum Service