Since opening in September 2018, the new Egyptology galleries at Bolton Museum have received significant positive media attention, praise from sector colleagues and professionals and glowing feedback from visitors. Further sector commendation has now been published in the Museums Association magazine, Museums Journal. The galleries were reviewed by Dr Campbell Price, curator of Egypt and Sudan at Manchester Museum. Describing an “overriding feeling of wonder and delight” upon seeing the galleries, Price acknowledges the “delightfully unexpected” nature of the Chadwick gallery, set in a recreation Queen's Park and the “light, bright, colourful and immersive” characteristics of the Land and People space.
The galleries have also received praise from Samira Ahmed, writing for the The Guardian; “Bolton Museum shows how it can be done. Daylight floods into the main gallery, where the objects are part of a celebration of the real life and landscape of ancient Egypt… Watching crowds of children pouring in to Bolton Museum, some almost overwhelmed with their passion for the Ancient Egyptians, is a reminder that honest, modern presentation and far-sighted, cultural investment can revitalise towns that have lost their industrial past with a very real, modern pride.”
The museum has reported 133,000 visitors in just 3 months – a staggering 46% increase on visitors to the museum in the same period in 2016. Leach Studio and Bolton Museum have commissioned a joint film to capture visitor reactions and share some behind the scenes knowledge of the project from Nichola Ward (Creative Director) and Sam Elliott (Crescent & Collections Manager, Bolton Museum) – watch this space to see the new film soon!
Following the Museums Journal review, Helen Mort (Development Director) and Sam Elliott have also shared their insight into the design process with Museum Practice, highlighting how the client and designer relationship is vital to creating a successful exhibition. An extract from the piece is below, featuring the team's top tips for a successful interpretive design process. The full article can be found on the Museum Practice website here.
Our top tips for a successful exhibition design process are:
• Always be honest about what you like and don’t like – you might laugh and cry together, but in the end a strong working relationship with the design team will create a better result for the project
• Don’t be afraid to push design boundaries – prototyping and testing processes are there to ensure robust technical solutions
• Keep stakeholders informed and engaged by sharing the design process with them – through social media and PR based on the latest visuals and ideas or behind the scenes tours of the site
• Have fun. If having an enjoyable and memorable experience is one of your anticipated outcomes for visitors, make sure this isn’t forgotten during the process.