As a result of the pandemic, we have been asked by many of our museum clients to re-evaluate and think about a more relevant and mobile architecture that can respond to lower visitor numbers, tighter budgets and a shifting public appetite for shared experiences. 

We recently worked with the Wallace Collection to do just that.  Responding to the pandemic, they commissioned a series of rapid response installations that re-thought their current collection.

A historic fifteenth century equestrian armour moved into the atrium café. There it stands proudly, as if charging through the museum, shaking up the peace and quiet. The armour looks radically different in this setting and out of the context of a traditional armour display. On its own, it feels more alive and unexpected. The detail of the metalwork, seems theatrical and almost unbelievable. As part of our design work, we added subtle window layers of a forest to reinforce an illusion of another time and place.

photograph: Gareth Gardner

At the same time, we also worked with the Wallace Collection to design a re-display of magnificent cabinets by Jean-Henri Riesener, a talented cabinet-maker who worked during the reign of Louis XVI. The cabinets were exhibited as stand-alone islands, running through a series of Wallace Collection galleries.

We designed bespoke high gloss plinths that placed the furniture at the centre of the space, to distinguish them as temporary interventions within a permanent setting. All graphic interpretation panels were in black to add a simple cohesion to the display. The black gloss of the plinth creates a surface that reflects the furniture too, highlighting the decorative detailing on the cabinets. 

It feels very exciting to view these displays in their new locations, where the spaces and objects immediately take on new meaning. 

In the coming months, perhaps years, we predict that museum projects like this will become increasingly common as a result of the pandemic. They allow museums to respond to current debates and changing audience behaviours, while also bringing out different narratives within their collection.

photograph: Gareth Gardner