Exhibition design is a symbiosis between the architecture, the narrative, the artworks, and the visitor experience.
Both grand and salon-style hangs with focused lighting were used for earlier work, and a simpler modern white-box style was used for work dating from the 1960s onwards.
Colour was applied to give the galleries distinct identities, and to depict the era of the artwork displayed within. Often, tones were sourced from the artworks themselves.
Throughout the various spaces, panels have been added as a new layer of wall on which artworks are hung. They are meticulously consistent in height and can be easily removed to reveal the historical building fabric. Their placement in some areas as partitions establishes long spaces and viewing corridors.
The most notable example of this is in the Singapore Gallery, where a large collection of ink paintings has been arranged as a long connecting space. Using ink as a connecting element rather than a ‘section’ in a larger exhibition is something that has never been done before.
SOUTHEAST ASIA GALLERIES
Codes and conventions of exhibition design have been explored to present artwork from the nineteenth century versus the twentieth century
Presenting a complex and varied collection of thousands of works from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (in media including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography and video) within two gazetted national monuments was a task of considerable complexity.
Underpinning the design approach is the intent to offer a ‘promenade’ experience of the collections and the building interiors.
The exhibition design for the two permanent collections, elected to focus on colour, light and vistas, supports the visitor’s reading of the diverse artworks and the architectural heritage.
The role of the exhibition design is to put the focus on the collection and the monuments, and to be timeless and non-intrusive. A consistent approach to the vocabulary of the exhibition components ties together the two shows, with a common language of partitions, showcase elements, visual corridors, and the use of colour.
BUILDING HISTORY AND EDUCATION
The role of the exhibition design was really to put the focus on the collection and the monuments, and to be timeless and non-intrusive.
The experience of the permanent exhibitions as one that quietly presents an important, and at times complex and turbulent art history with restraint and control is continued at The Social Table – a 8.5-metre long multi-touch display table. It was an information hub, a physical gathering point and a platform for the digital sharing of artworks and information.
The most challenging spaces for the design team was Gallery 1 in the Southeast Asia Gallery the most thoroughly preserved of the four former courtrooms, where historical counters, bookcases and the prisoner dock remain.
The presentation system for the artwork, which includes counter-top showcases and wall-mounted cabinets, were installed without damage to the historical elements and to be removable without leaving a trace.
Non-reflective glass showcases with integrated lighting have been clamped to counters, and cabinets (with drawers for light-sensitive paper artifacts) have been slotted into niches, with the original doors simply left in the open position and the shelves stored away elsewhere.