Councillors Ian Bowyer and Tudor Evans with gallery visuals for The Box, Plymouth - fit out release

Shadow Leader, Councillor Ian Bowyer and Leader, Tudor Evans with gallery visuals for The Box, Plymouth

Specialist fit-out contractors The Hub are expected to be awarded the contract to transform the interior of The Box into a place of wonder, learning and inspiration.

The Hub’s portfolio of projects range from the super-modern cyber security exhibition at Bletchley Park to sensitive showcasing of ancient documents in the Museum of Arabic Science Kuwait.  They created blockbuster exhibitions such as David Bowie at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Age of the Dinosaur at the Natural History Museum and Nelson Navy and Nation at the National Maritime Museum.

The Box - Mayflower Exhibition - Colonies Concept visual - fit out releaseCouncil Leader Tudor Evans said: “Our aim for The Box has been to inspire, enthral and keep people coming time and time again – which is why the exhibitions need to be dynamic, interactive and downright awesome.

“Globally-important museums such as the Victoria and Albert Museum used the Hub to create David Bowie exhibition, which was the V and A’s most successful exhibition ever – that’s how good they are. We have incredible stories to tell and are really excited about the mixture of traditional techniques and modern technology the Hub will use to bring our stories alive.

“From a wall of pickled sea creatures to mesmerizing projections as well as a myriad of gizmos and hands-on gadgets to keep younger visitors utterly riveted, the scale and range of their task cannot be underestimated.”

Plymouth’s Cabinet is being recommended to award the £5 million contract to the Hub when they meet on Tuesday 9 October.

The Box - Media Lab Concept visual - fit out releaseThe Hub face a mammoth task – literally! As well as creating a full-sized woolly mammoth using 3D printing technology, they will be responsible for creating features such as a giant globe with internal 3D projection technology. There will be projection mapping of the Sound and the city to animate the city’s incredible history.

The Hub team will be creating the look and feel of eight theme-based galleries as well as a further seven spaces for temporary exhibitions. Models, replicas and reconstructions coupled with whizzy graphics and state of the art interactive displays are all planned. A key part of their work will be creating some really huge exhibition cases for so many precious artefacts.

Councillor Evans added: “In one gallery alone we will have Scott’s skis and Drake’s sword – these astonishing artefacts are Plymouth’s treasures. The casings need to be specially made, to keep the items in a highly controlled environment to preserve them.”

Shadow Leader of the Council Ian Bowyer added: “This is a once in a life time opportunity to create something incredible for Plymouth. The Hub have worked with the world’s best museums – our ambition is to be the best.

The Box - Mammoth Gallery - Pickled Marine Specimens Mass Display visual - fit out release“We appreciate as members this is a big investment for the city, Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund and we are absolutely committed to maintaining the highest quality we can. I am convinced this investment will pay huge dividends with additional jobs visitors and a huge sense of civic pride.”

Professor Dafydd Moore, Executive Dean of Faculty of Arts and Humanities Faculty at the University of Plymouth said: “This project has always been about maintaining ambition and the recommended appointment of the Hub is further evidence that we are aiming high in making this a fantastic cultural attraction of national standing. The Council’s collective leadership in driving forward and championing this project for the city of Plymouth is to be commended.”

The Box brings together cultural partners and heritage collections including the City Museum and Art Gallery, the Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, the local history collections of the Central Library, the South West Film & Television Archive, the South West Image Bank, University of Plymouth (including The Arts Institute) and the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre.

The Box construction project is making good progress with the topping out ceremony held last month. Details are coming together on the themed galleries inside The Box. They are:

  • Mammoth Plymouth – The natural world of Plymouth and the south west from the Ice Age to the present day.
  • Port of Plymouth – 3,000 years as a maritime port and how it has grown into the maritime and naval port of today.
  • 100 Journeys – This gallery tells the stories of Drake, Cook, Darwin, Scott and those who left the port of Plymouth and changed the way we see and understand the world
  • Media Lab – Using the largest film and television archive in the UK, this will showcase the people who pioneer, create and experiment with film and media from the early photographic pioneers to the current digital creatives in the city
  • Photo Album – Using one of the largest photographic collections in the south west visitors will be able to explore the ‘family album’ of Plymouth through changing thematic displays.
  • Memory Box – Around the first floor balcony of the atrium will everyday objects that will trigger memories of day-to-day life in Plymouth.
  • Active Archive – visitors can discover the fascinating stories within the city’s archives, charting how the city grew and changed as well as look at records and manuscripts that give insight into family history as well as where people live
  • Cottonian Reading Room – a modern take on a Georgian reading room will allow visitors to explore the breadth of The Box’s collections surrounded by objects from the Cottonian Collection, one of the greatest gifts given to Plymouth.
  • Figureheads – 14 ships figureheads from one of the largest collections in the UK will be suspended in a stunning installation in The Box entrance, restaurant and shop. The largest of these figureheads, King Billy will greet visitors on their arrival.

The Box - Active Archives Visual - fit out release

And there’s more. A range of temporary exhibition galleries are being designed to keep art lovers and the curious returning again and again.

  • St Luke’s Church – the former church will be one of the largest art spaces in the south west, capable of hosting major exhibitions from national and international institutions as well as commissions and installations.
  • Hurdle Gallery – this gallery will house a range of smaller exhibitions from in-house curated shows to touring exhibitions to artists’ responses
  • Our Art – the ‘stars’ of the city’s art collection will be on show and a programme of changing displays is planned.
  • Mayflower: Legend and Legacy – the national Mayflower exhibition which is assembling one of the largest number of Mayflower artefacts and loans from across the UK and US ever assembled.
  • Photo Album – using one of the largest photographic collections in the South West, visitors will be able to explore the ‘family album’ of Plymouth through changing thematic displays.

Led by Plymouth City Council, The Box is a partnership with the University of Plymouth and the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Major funding for the project has been secured from the City Council, a £14.8 million National Lottery grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Arts Council England, Coastal Communities Fund, Garfield Weston Foundation, University of Plymouth, Wolfson Foundation, Interreg and Mayflower 400.