the museum of gloucester
Between October 2018 and March 2019, I was commissioned to deliver a new interior design scheme, new marketing posters and print designs, photography and new signage for the atrium of the Museum of Gloucester.
See the run-down of the project below with some examples of the posters, design ideas and photography from the shoot I directed - the first professional photography of objects and spaces in the museum for many years.
Update: after delivering the complete scheme and new assets in March, Gloucester City Council announced that the museum's atrium and cafe area was to play host to the relocated Gloucester Tourist Information Centre so the project was paused at that point, only part way through.
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wishing to be more welcoming
I was asked to design vinyls for the doorway, and frosted panels for both front doors (see below). In addition, the Museum of Gloucester asked for a new set of base posters to sit in their poster frames both inside and out.
I ordered new photography to form the basis of the posters to adorn the outside, a-board and atrium, working with Jake Janes (see more of his work here). The vinyl over the door was a semi-transparent to preserve the light coming through the window into the atrium. The frosted panes were designed to give definition to the doors when they are closed. I additionally suggested that the shutters over the entrance be painted red with the logo spray-painted in white over the top to make a bold statement on the street even when the building is closed.
a cleaner simpler first impression
The initial impression walking into the original atrium space was one of confusion and clutter, with lots of signs, posters, leaflets, donation boxes, jam jars, warnings, postcards, and very confusing wayfinding. The interior design and signage I came up with had the intention of stripping all the confusing calls to action away, leaving a visitor with a simple question: where do I wish to go? And providing the answers right in front of them.
There were no less than five A0 posters, a notice board, a tourist leaflet rack, three donation boxes, the museum logo, and no wayfinding signage. There were multiple warning signs: 'do not smoke', 'you are being filmed', etc. The price list was in two A0 external posters and another A0 foamex board inside. This was confusing and overwhelming. To tame this bewildering space, I first defined the spaces.
The cafe and shop would be totally separate from the atrium and front desk. Clear signage would guide you between them. Leaflet racks would live in the cafe area where visitors may have more time to peruse them while they have a coffee. The self-service cafe itself was to have a black blind fitted over its gaping hatch, which would then be painted with a mural. The highly visible drinks fridge was to be painted in blackboard paint and have the menu drawn up by a signpainter. The shop was to thin out its merchandise lines, and define its space with a clean fresh coat of light grey paint.
In the atrium, to give the space some focus, I designed the space around its key feature - the 1800 year old Roman pillar. My scheme intended to free the pillar from the desk, allowing it to be celebrated and seen with fewer distractions. The entire wall behind it was to be painted in a dark charcoal so the pillar stood out against it as visitors arrived. The colour scheme of the space was designed to complement the sandstone: reds, charcoals and coppers.
All extraneous furniture was to be removed to allow the better flow of people, and the POS area on the desk was to be carefully managed, with the cafe and shop no longer spilling into the atrium leaving defined, clear spaces. Leaflets were to be limited to three types, only to be held in wooden leaflet holders on the desk. No piles of print, less clutter, and a tidy welcome was the intention.
Wayfinding signage was designed to allow customers to see where they wished to go. White lettering (vinyls or stencilled) against bold colours would help them be more visible. Archways to different spaces were to be painted red to highlight that you are stepping through a liminal space into another, whether it be from the atrium into the shop or through Daniel Defoe's description of Gloucester into the main gallery. Behind the desk was to be a red painted stripe denoting 'here to help' to point visitors at a friendly face.
Posters would be limited to three A1 frames on the left-hand wall. I proposed wooden to-loading poster cases and designed the generic base posters to sit in them. This then means that the museum can control the messaging they wish customers to see, rather than overwhelm them with too much information.
The desk was to be dismantled at one end to create more space for visitors and the vast ocean of melamine was to be wrapped in a custom textured vinyl. Topped with brushed copper, and with a custom-designed side panel featuring key figures from Gloucester's history, it would turn the desk from being an imposition on the space into an interesting feature of it.
stepping back in time
Rather than have a sign simply saying 'Main Gallery' or 'Entrance this Way', I wanted to know what had been said about Gloucester's history by notable visitors in the past, and reflect that. Suffice it to say, this is more difficult than I thought. While Gloucester's great mercantile and industrial history is something to behold, the great and the good said remarkably little about the city. However, Daniel Defoe did visit and remarked on its obvious antiquity. His quote, from 1727, when he published his Tour Thro' the Whole Island of Great Britain, was the perfect summation of what lay beyond the archway into the main gallery. Working with The Stencil Studio in Stroud, we are hoping this quote will adorn the doorway from Summer 2019.
re-emphasising the cafe
The Museum of Gloucester has suffered from not having a fully operational cafe for several years. It has an extremely reasonably-priced self-service cafe, but it was rather lost in the chaotic lack of definition between atrium, shop and cafe area. Some simple tweaks, like installing a black blind, painting the surrounding walls a fresh light grey and then branding it, quite simply, with a stencilled logo helped lift it and point visitors back at it.
telling the museum's story
In order to provide the museum with some interest on their walls and in their poster cases, I set about creating a new set of posters for them (see a selection below).
I researched some of the key elements that makes the collection of Gloucester Museum unique, and delved into the characters you might meet in there. With Colonel Massey, Gloucester Old Spot Pigs, Jemmy Wood and Aethelflaed to name but a few, Gloucester has so much fun, funny and fascinating stories to tell. It made sense to put them not only on the front desk (see above) but also on a key poster.
An example A1 poster designed to sit as a base for the poster frames in the atrium.
A poster featuring many of the characters you'll meet in the Museum's collection.
Poster inspired by John Bartholomew's observation of Gloucester's antiquity, 1887
Poster inspired by Sir Robert Atkyns description of Gloucester from 1872.
Replacing the A0 price lists, I designed an A4 poster to sit behind on the front desk.
The treasures available to see have been under-appreciated and are sorely lacking in visibility, so I directed a photoshoot of many of the interesting and important objects, to kickstart a bank of marketing images for use on social media and when they build a website.
All designs © Jack Fayter 2018. Photography © Jake Janes 2019