This blog is part of a mini-series of updates about the Battle Bus Research Volunteer Project. To keep up-to-date with all the latest programme activities, please visit the ‘Battle Bus’ section in London Transport Museum blog.
Session five and six
In sessions five and six the research volunteers started to organise their topics into a narrative and think about the design of the exhibition, with the afternoons spent on individual research. Volunteer Sadie Arora describes what they got up to:
Week five began with us thinking about the key message we thought visitors should take away from the exhibition. We put a brief summary of our research topic on to a sticky note, grouped these into themes and arranged the themes into an order. This simple exercise was really helpful, as we could see a potential storyline emerge, check the key messages were covered, and identify areas with too much or not enough focus. We also found out where in the Museum our temporary exhibition would be on display – in Luke’s Skills Space on Level 1.
We were then treated to a brilliant talk from Sau-Fun Mo, Head of Design at the Museum. Sau-Fun gave us what seemed like the trade secrets of museum design departments, not only explaining the process of designing exhibitions, but demonstrating how vital design is in supporting the content, and the potential for design choices to subtly affect how information is conveyed.
After explaining design structure schemes, which link every task in a project to a clear progression, Sau-Fun detailed her work on two contrasting displays in the Museum: the Poster Girls temporary exhibition about female poster artists, and the new permanent gallery about tunnelling, called Digging Deeper. We learned how approaches differ according to the scale of the space and the objectives of the displays. We were also given examples of techniques that help inform and engage visitors, such as the graphic of small images running along the entire Poster Girls display to convey the wealth of the collection that the exhibition was drawn from.
Sau-Fun gave us some advice on the design approach for our project. As the space is a self-contained room, she told us to think about what the space outside could communicate to visitors, and what the immediate impression of the exhibition should be when entering the room.
In week six, we discussed ideas for the exhibition space. Although we won’t be dong the design work ourselves, we wanted to put our ideas into the design brief and were keen to have a go at applying what we’d learned from Sau-Fun. On the whole, we went for realistic ideas that would engage the audience. Smoke machines and animatronics in the skills room seemed unlikely!
We felt that making a clear link from the Battle Bus itself, which will be on display in the main gallery on the ground floor, will be crucial. Ideas included a trail of logos, or handing tickets to visitors to ‘continue the journey’ upstairs. We weighed up whether it’s better to divide the room into sections, or have a central feature. We’ve been so taken with the T.O.T magazines that a suggestion to use them in the graphic design was popular, as was a large map to unite the different topics. A pigeon motif was suggested, to make use of the room’s height and engage visitors with the surprising sight of B-type pigeon lofts. Simple ways for visitors to interact were also suggested, especially children’s activities and a comments board.
As we approach the end of the project, it’s sinking in that our research must form a story worthy of a museum display. That is quite daunting, but we are also hugely reassured to know that the Design department will be able to work wonders with whatever we come up with.
Comeback every week to read the latest instalment on how our volunteers are getting on with their Battle Bus project.