Chirk Castle, a National Trust property on the border between Wales and England, wanted to improve how they told stories to visitors and help older children and adults have a fun experience (the younger children were more than happy with the dressing up and wooden swords). They asked us to work with them as a Creative Producer, devising new, interesting ways of telling stories and producing them as a pilot to evaluate. We consulted with stakeholders volunteers and devised a series of enriching community activities and co-created pieces.
We created a beautiful animation, projected directly onto the dungeon walls, a bespoke board game and consequences game and a community theatrical installation, experienced in the dark.
We also devised an evaluation structure and plan, and a lock-down plan (a new service we hope won’t be relevant for long!) and wrote a guide for volunteers.
The Auckland Project is a project that spans over a thousand years and seven venues in one beautiful setting. It’s all about Bishop Auckland: a small town, but one with a big history and big ambitions.
The public engagement team asked us to come in and help hone the skills of their curators and content leads in the run-up to producing a vast amount of content for their all their new sites and galleries. We ran a bespoke training programme, produced tone of voice guides and style guides and helped mentor the team through the process. We also also edited and proof-read all the texts for print, and edited AV scripts.
It was an exciting time for Plymouth’s museums. A new, multi-million pound gallery and museum complex on North Hill was being built to house Plymouth’s most important heritage collections on one site. A striking contemporary extension on the back of the former Museum and Art Gallery and Central Library was being built and St Luke’s Church was being transformed. A programme of high profile exhibitions, artist commissions and events were set run alongside the permanent gallery displays, making The Box a key cultural attraction for the city and region.
The Box asked us to create a bespoke programme of writing training for their team of curators, to help everyone write with an engaging, shared voice. We also developed a suite of gallery tones of voice for them, so that the visitor could experience subtle changes of voice between different galleries. After the training was complete, we mentored the team through the mammoth task of writing gallery text and edited the final draft for them. We also carried out a final proof read of all text ahead of print.
The National Army Museum were undergoing a huge, transformative capital project and rolling out a new brand at the same time. They understood that their writing needed to shift a gear to keep pace with these massive changes.
We created a bespoke programme of training for them alongside a new Style Guide that helped them to express the new museum’s character eloquently and accurately. The HLF-funded training also involved in-depth ongoing mentoring as the content teams put together the all-important new text for the museum galleries. We did a final proofread of all texts before production.
After the success of the content team training, the training was rolled out across the organisation, with a training programme and Style Guide for every team in the museum.
Biggin Hill is one of the most famous centres of the Battle of Britain. Here ordinary people carried out extraordinary acts. Creating a new museum around its chapel would help new audiences understand its significance and create an important local hub. Working with Barker Langham, we produced an interpretation plan to help the museum deliver on all of its promise.
In tandem with an extensive period of consultation, we arrived at an interpretation plan that conveyed the courage of the men and women who were involved – not just fighter pilots, but men and women on the ground and members of the local community. Biggin Hill was also a place of extraordinary technical experimentation and innovation, and we looked for ways to balance people stories with these technological firsts. We also thought hard about an appropriate tone of voice that was positive without being triumphalist.
Our approach included interpretive interventions across the entire site, including the grounds, chapel and cafe, as well as ways to reach out to the surrounding area. The end result was elegant, inspiring and surprising, with traditional museum displays as well as more immersive interpretive approaches.
At ITHRA, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dharam, Saudi Arabia, we worked on a landmark new natural history gallery. The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia – a public meeting place with a cinema, performance spaces, cafes and galleries created to an international museological standard.
Arabian Journeys is a natural history gallery, curated by the Natural History Museum in London. Over a three-year period we created an interpretive strategy for audiences that were very tech savvy but had little experience of museums. A key audience was teenagers and young families, and the content had to be detailed and educational, but fun and easy to digest at the same time.
Much of the content was digital, including scripts for virtual guides, and we also devised a series of games to make the journey through the content experiential and enjoyable. Visitors would feel as though they were exploring this unique and fascinating landscape themselves.
We wrote scripts for the Gallery and devised a Style Guide and Text Strategy, which the client applied across the entire Center.
Following a competitive pitch, we worked on the scriptwriting of AV and exhibition text for the Little Company of Mary Heritage Centre in Nottingham, designed by Event. Mary Potter was a remarkable woman who founded an Order of Sisters in Nottingham, inspired by a series of visions she’d had in her mother’s ordinary Victorian living room. The centre tells the story of the founder of the Little Company of Mary order of Sisters, and the impact of the order on the world today.
The Heritage Centre represents the spirituality of the Little Company of Mary, today and through history. Sisters devote a lifetime to this spirituality and its many levels of meaning. It was a challenge to do it justice in a Heritage Centre, where audiences include the very young and some who have no knowledge of Catholicism at all.
We approached the scriptwriting as a storytelling exercise, developing the characters and creating a sense of narrative anticipation. The scriptwriting explained Mary Potter’s life using the structure of a story with character arcs and cliffhangers. Complex concepts were explained authentically but simply, so that everyone would come away understanding this important story.
With the transformation of Merthyr Tydfil’s Old Town Hall into a new Arts Centre, the client was looking for an exhibition for the building’s public spaces that would tell the story of the town’s industrial history, grab attention and feel inclusive, as well as working well within a late nineteenth century building. We looked for a narrative that was unique to Redhouse, and that conveyed the hope and spirit of the town through its rising and falling fortunes.
Extensive consultation with local experts and local community groups was undertaken so that the narrative and content for the exhibition would be inclusive and responsive to local opinions and interests. We created a conversational story – one that encompassed different opinions and voices. Difficult stories and conflicting viewpoints were not avoided, but added to the richness of the narrative. The story is told across the public spaces of the Old Town Hall, using sound and grouped standalone stories to appeal to visitors using the café, theatre or on-site college facilities.
We worked with on the project with Nick Bell Design, delivering the interpretation plan, consultation, research, content development, scriptwriting and learning outcomes, as well as contributing to partnership development.
Ditchling Museum in Sussex asked me to write their interpretation plan and report for their stage 2 HLF funding application. The contract was extended to include extensive consultation in focus groups, online surveys and exit polls and the HLF application Audience Development Plan & Activity Plan. The exhibition had to work across the original building and a planned modern extension.
The work focused on drawing out the unique and fascinating stories the content had to tell and organising them in a clear, engaging way that deeply embedded community work and local stories into a story of broader interest. The application was successful and the museum reopened in September 2013.