King Richard III’s story told in new £1.2m visitor attraction

Studio MB has designed a £1.2m visitor center on the site of the discovered remains of King Richard III, which tells the story of the life, death and discovery of ‘the lost king.’

Richard III

Richard III was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field of 1485 and is the last King to have died in battle. It brought an end to the Wars of The Roses and the Plantagenet dynasty.

His naked body was carried to Leicester by supporters of Henry VII and buried, unceremoniously, in Greyfriar’s Church.

More than 500 years later in 2013 his remains were found in a council-owned car park, backing on to a grammar school in Leicester.

‘The space was even marked R as well,’ says Charlie Barr, director of Studio MB, who led the project.

Following a tender process, Studio MB was appointed by Leicester Council, which has worked in partnership with the University of Leicester to bring the exhibition to bear.

The consultancy was tasked with branding the Richard III Visitor Centre, creating an interpretive experience and exhibition design.

Richard III
RIII identity, created by Studio MB

An RIII mark has ben created as a ‘shorthand’ according to Barr, who says it is memorable and international and ‘references our current monarch’s cypher EIIR’.

The crown has ben drawn from historical reference material including stained glass windows, statues and paintings.

An exhibition strap line has been devised to reflect its scope – Dynasty, Death and Discovery.

The grammar school has been relocated to make room for a two-floor exhibition and an extension is planned, which will cover the open burial site, ‘like a glass box,’ says Barr.

It is unclear at the moment whether the body will be reinterred in the adjacent Leicester Cathedral, or in York Minster, which is also making a claim for the remains. 

Barr says the ground floor of the exhibition, ‘explores Richard’s life from a boy born into a family power struggle fighting for the throne of England and a country at war with itself. This upbringing, with death and violence all around, greatly influenced the man he was about to become.’

AV and interactive experiences tell this story and will include a recreation of the Battle of Bosworth Field.

This image shows how visitors can peer through arches to ‘look into the past’ where they will find representations of Richard’s wife and brother and other characters which are ‘brought to life,’ says Barr.

Richard III

Elsewhere interactive games will allow visitors to play juror as to who was responsible for the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower – Edward V of England, and Richard Shrewsbury, Duke of York. Richard was the Uncle and protector of Edward V, natural heir to the throne.

On the first floor, the story is picked up 528 years later. Richard’s body was discovered from an archeological dig instructed by the Richard III Society, which set in motion a series of verification processes including radiocarbon dating, discovering that his hunched posture was caused by the condition scoliosis, and matching DNA taken from the body with that of known relatives.

Barr says, ‘On the first floor we explore Richard’s portrayal and betrayal, examining how his image has been manipulated, before telling the story of the discovery through the research and search, the archaeological dig and the science of proving the found remains were that of the lost King.’

This will involve an interactive table, made up like a CT scanning machine.

Barr says, ‘3D printing of Richard’s skeletal remains lay on an illuminated plinth where the visitor can explore for themselves through Pepper’s Ghost hologram display, the clues the archaeologist discovered.’

Visitors can isolate details such as a puncture wound in Richard’s head where he was killed, and another made by an archeologist’s spade on discovery.

The attraction is expected to open late summer 2014.

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  • C Fellingham Webb November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    York Minster has not made a claim for King Richard’s remains to be reburied there, in fact staying neutral until the ongoing judicial review decides whether the exhumation licence is legal. Many people around the world, however, are campaigning for a reburial in York as they see the region as his spiritual home and where he would have chosen to be buried. Also, there is no contemporary reference to him having a ‘hunched posture’ – at most sources in the years immediately after his death indicated that one should was higher than the other (no one agreed which). Furthermore, the dig was instructed not by the Richard III Society but by the Looking for Richard Project: http://looking-for-richard.webs.com/ who are members of the Society but distinct from it.

  • C Fellingham Webb November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    York Minster has not made a claim for reburial of Richard’s body, remaining neutral until the outcome of the judicial review of the exhumation licence is known. However many people worldwide are campaigning for the return of his body to what they see as his spiritual home in Yorkshire. There are no contemporary accounts of him having a ‘hunched posture’ – at most records in the years after his death indicate that one shoulder was slightly higher than the other. And the dig was instructed not by the Richard III Society but by the Looking for Richard Project: http://looking-for-richard.webs.com/ – who are members of the society but distinct from it.

  • Kathryn Reddington Graves November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Dear God, is there no one connected with this who can read the above regarding the visitor centre and think is this how we really want to remember and represent the life of Richard III ?
    If our current monarch’s cypher is EIIR then RIIIR is what Richard III’s cypher should be surely.I and many others await the opening of the above centre by a current member of the royal family with interest.

  • Kathryn Reddington Graves November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Has no one objectively read all of the above information about the new proposed? visitor centre and thought is this how we really want to represent and remember the life of Richard III?

  • Dave Atkin November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    I hope MB have an ironclad contract. In all likely hood Richard IIIs remains will be returning home to where he wanted to be buried at York Minster. He had 100s of recorded personal and official connections to his home and seat of power in North Yorkshire – he visited Leicester 5 times – once to cut a head off 3 times because he had no choice (just passing through) and once before the battle where he was betrayed, murdered, mutilated and humiliated by the local Tudor supporting town before being thrown in a shallow hole not long enough to lay him out. Totally against tradition of treating an anointed King with respect, pomp and circumstance before returning him home for burial.
    There is a legal process in train to achieve what The Lord of the North wanted – if I was running MB, no matter what LCC / UoL promised; I wouldn’t touch this project with a barge pole – after all a High Court Judge knows more than a Mayor and the judge ordered the case to be taken forward.

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