Museums & exhibitions

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I have been involved in many projects with artists, designers, museums and galleries, including …

The IKEA Museum, Älmhult, Sweden

imageDuring 2014–15 I worked with a design team from Ralph Appelbaum Associates on the exhibition script for the IKEA Museum in Älmhult, southern Sweden. I created a prototype script using the method developed by Swedish writer Margareta Ekarv, which results in display panels that look and read a bit like poems. The idea is that we absorb information better if we can hear the words and speech rhythms. This project was taken forward by the IKEA in-house team; the museum opened in June 2016.


Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Nigeria

This was another scriptwriting project with museum and exhibition designers Ralph Appelbaum Associates. The Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) is the first institution of its kind in Africa, housing an archive of Nigerian political history on a new campus site in Abeokuta. At its core is an exhibition about the life and times of former president Olusegun Obasanjo.

There were some memorable episodes on this project, not least the recording session with Obasanjo himself in London, and a fascinating early visit to Lagos and Abeokuta, much of it conducted under heavily armed guard …

Lagos, passing alternative transport options on the way to Abeokuta.

View over Abeokuta.


Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) in Exeter completed a £24 million redesign and extension in December 2011. In the year after reopening, RAMM received 340,000 visitors and was voted Museum of the Year in the Art Fund Prize 2012. Chair of the judges, Lord Smith of Finsbury, described his visit as a ‘magical’ experience. It’s not a word that politicians often use, but it is, I think, the effect a museum should have.

Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter

RAMM is home to a wonderfully eclectic collection – fossils, chunks of Roman and medieval Exeter, all kinds of exotica brought back by Devon merchants and missionaries from their travels, and Gerald the stuffed giraffe, the city’s unofficial mascot.

‘Gerald’ the giraffe, guardian spirit of RAMM and best-loved object (?) in the museum’s collection.

 

From 2008 to 2010 I worked with the curatorial team at RAMM on the script for the new displays. We developed the storylines that would bring together very diverse parts of the collection.

The aim was to ask questions as well as answer them, to get people thinking and talking. We ended up with about 40,000 words of panel text. Of course most visitors only pause to read a small fraction of this, so the story needs to keep a sense of structure and momentum, even if visitors take in just one or two panels in each gallery.

‘Throughout the museum, the story of the people who used the objects is brought out … The museum aims to be ‘home to a million thoughts’ and all those involved in bringing it back to life should be congratulated on what they have achieved.’    Museums Journal


The Eye Made Quiet: Poetic Landscapes, Belgrave Gallery, St Ives (September 2009)

Felicity Mara, ‘The Eye Made Quiet: Poetic Landscapes’, installation at Belgrave Gallery, St Ives, September 2009.

A collaborative exhibition conceived as a visual conversation on the theme of reverie. I contributed poetic texts and photomontages, which were intended to work with Felicity Mara‘s paintings to open out the slow-time imaginative dimensions of the landscape idea. Better explained, perhaps, in a talk I gave at the Belgrave Gallery during the show (to listen, click here) or my short online essay ‘A note on reverie ‘.


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