Curator’s Update – Object Selection

Preparing the New Displays for Weston Museum

We’re working hard behind the scenes to prepare the new displays for Weston Museum. This June, we’ve had two exciting jobs: selecting objects for the new gallery displays and deciding how these objects will be arranged and mounted.

David Revell, Creative Head at Imagemakers (Exhibition Designers) and John Cooper from Beaufort Bespoke (Fit-out Contractors) visited the Somerset Heritage Centre near Taunton to work with museum curators from the South West Heritage Trust on this part of the project. While Weston Museum is closed for its redevelopment all the objects are being stored at the Somerset Heritage Centre, where they are accessible to the public by appointment. Over eight days we worked through the new displays case by case.

Weston-super-Mare Town Council, Imagemakers and the South West Heritage Trust had previously decided which stories we were going to tell in the new galleries based on feedback from consultation with Weston Museum’s users and non-users. We had then created a shortlist of objects that would help to tell each story. Imagemakers used this information to prepare design plans which showed in detail what each gallery would look like.

This was our first opportunity to look at all of the objects selected for the new displays and see if they worked well together. Each day we got all the objects shortlisted for a particular story out of the museum stores. David and John measured out each display area on a large piece of backing paper. We then placed all the objects on the paper as we wanted them to be in the new galleries. John advised on how the objects could be mounted to show them off to their best advantage. We also worked out how many object labels would be needed for each display.

Sometimes the objects we had shortlisted worked well together. At other times we had to make adjustments to make the displays more interesting. This often involved finding different objects in the museums stores to include a display area. We worked on each display case until we were all happy with the final arrangement!

Working with David and John was very enjoyable. They were both very patient and good at problem solving. It felt really exciting to see the new displays come together.  After three years of planning, it suddenly feels very real!

The next part of the project will take place in July and August when we will prepare all the interpretation for the new displays. This includes writing labels for all the objects, choosing images for each gallery and writing scripts for audio-visual interactives.

Amal Kreisheh from the South West Heritage Trust

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