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Derby World Cultures

This exhibition at Derby Museum and Art Gallery has challenged everything we think we know about interpretive design. Co-produced with a wonderful network of volunteers, staff, stakeholders and partners, the results are anything but expected.

Our brief was to display 100% of the World Cultures collection (over 5000 objects), in innovative yet cost effective ways that responded to visitors personal needs and interests.

Visitors were asked what five things do every person across the globe experience. The top six results informed our themes and zones for display, and helped us make connections between people and places. Our common threads were Beliefs, Conflict, Adorning, Furnishing, Communicating and Consuming.

At every stage of the project, ideas were informed and then tested with the public in a series of events that featured artists and musicians, responding in their own unique way to the collection. The result is a simple modular design approach using natural materials and minimal interpretation, which is continuing to be co-produced with visitors over the life of the exhibition.

Artistic commissions and interventions can be found woven throughout the gallery. The sides of cases show slithers of hand drawn objects from students at the university, plinth tops show beautiful pencil drawings from the local sketch club and a soundscape showcases what noises the instruments within the collections makes.

Photos of the artefacts within modern homes with their modern western equivalent are shown throughout the gallery, allowing people to find relevance and meaning in objects from all over the world.


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