A museum for the whole of Glasgow
The Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery is home to one of the world’s finest and most fascinating collections. Its encyclopaedic collection ranges from dinosaurs to Dalís, mummified heads to medieval armoury. A true treasure trove, the objects surprise and delight at every turn.
In 2004, we began working with the museum team to transform the Kelvingrove into a space for the whole city to enjoy. The old museum was an almighty Victorian institution with dozens of themes, often opaque and confusing in parts. The new museum is open and celebratory – using two stands of Life and Expression to embrace the city’s social and cultural life. Social inclusion, learning and accessibility are its lifeblood. Today, it is one of the most popular museums outside of London visited by young families and university academics alike.
An example in inclusive design
To attract a new audience, we had to offer something new. Shaking off the shackles of tradition, our design pulls you in with bold, provocative displays. We challenge you to expect the unexpected. Find an armadillo in a showcase of medieval armoury, see their similarities, marvel at their shells. Or watch a spitfire soar above a parade of taxidermy animals, rearing up about to storm out of the foyer. But our quirky objects groupings are not just there for novelty’s sake; they are the result of extensive spatial analysis, a commitment to creating a sense of wonder and a resolute rejection of the traditional museum model.
Accessibility is at the heart of our interpretative approach. Visitors are addressed as equal partners. Interpretation talks more than traditional galleries, assuming no prior knowledge – you do not need to be au fait with the Old Masters to enjoy their paintings. By working closely with the museum’s audience and learning teams, we were able to focus every story on a specific audience and permeate the display with eight learning modules.
One of the most forward-thinking, inclusive and accessible museums in the world
As visitors’ interests change, so too do the displays. We developed a flexible design system that can be easily reconfigured so the museum can keep telling new stories and stay as relevant to the public as ever. Standardised display components achieved remarkable economies of scale, allowing us to meet a tight budget and deliver over 80 stories and 300 case layouts in under six months.
The new Kelvingrove has been described as paradigm shifting. It remains one of the most forward-thinking, inclusive and accessible museums in the world.
Best Permanent Exhibition, Museums + Heritage Awards for Excellence
The Art Fund Prize 2013
Gulbenkian Museum of the Year Award 2007
Conservation by Design
Plowden and Smith