A city ripe for cultural regeneration
Peterborough is a place of contrasts. It is a historic cathedral city with a rich history spanning centuries. Yet despite this, it frequently appears on lists of cultural ‘cold spots’. But a much-welcomed major cultural regeneration project is on the horizon. And Peterborough Museum & Art Gallery is at its heart. Central to the museum's regeneration is the newly acquired Must Farm Archive — one of the world's most significant Bronze Age archaeological finds.
The museum team have a bold new vision for its future. A vision to become an agent for social change and anchor the city’s cultural life. Not just a space for storytelling, but a space for civic wellbeing. A space to learn, connect and be mindful. They appointed us to deliver a proposal (developed up to RIBA Stage 1) for the regenerated museum — a roadmap to realising the museum's vision.
'Intension' not 'extension'
Our first step was to step into the museum’s world. Through consultation and audience research, we got to know the museum inside out. Its collections, its visitors, its building — with all its quirks and charms.
Spatially, it became clear that an extension to house the Must Farm Archive was not viable. Instead, we proposed an ‘intension’ and redesign of the visitor circulation to make better use of the existing building.
New approaches to attract new audiences
The museum aspires to better engage the city's culturally diverse population. But currently, the collections stop at the 1960s, meaning that more recent generations are not reflected in the museum.
In response, we developed a new thematic narrative journey through the space, moving away from the previous chronological model. The new narrative emphasises connection to self, place and people – themes that everybody can relate to. The experience draws on the ‘five ways to wellbeing’ model – Connections, Activity, Mindfulness, Learning, Contribution – and weaves them throughout the visitor journey. The vision is truly a space for everybody to gather, learn and enjoy.