Whilst there wasn’t that much to see during this phase, it was an incredibly exciting time for everyone involved and was the phase when the concepts and ideas for the final centre were born and a number of questions were asked, including:
- What will it look like?
- What will it contain?
- How will people use it?
- How will they interact with it
- What do we want it to achieve?
A considerable amount of work was undertaken, with staff from the partner organisations seeking advice and knowledge from other cities and cultural centres. They also looked at best practices and good working models before moving on to work with world renowned consultants on the design, content and organisational development aspects of the project.
This involved going through all the previous work, the comments and thoughts gathered on consultations and consolidating them into three distinct pieces of work which have laid the foundations for the History Centre. Their focus was to look at our unique offering, the different collections, the physical spaces available and the aspirations for the centre. At various stages throughout this process opinions from the public were sought and ideas tested.
The overall concept
This piece of work helped us define the vision; what kind of centre do we want it to be and how can the different elements and partners contribute?
Workshops took place with staff (archivists, curators, educators, community workers, front-of-house, administrators, arts), friends and volunteers, all of whom had an incredibly valuable contribution to make.
The consultants wanted to know what staff considered to be the most important challenges and opportunities. They asked what issues they thought might arise as a consequence of bringing five collections under one roof, how they would like to see the centre develop and what their greatest ambition for the centre was.
This piece of work also helped to inform the marketing of the History Centre, how it’s positioned in the tourism sector, what it will be called and how it will be promoted.
The creative concept
Looking at the local history, art and natural history, this piece of work also considered the characters that have shaped our history, the adventurers and pioneers who have ventured to other shores and the incredible stories that are to be found within the city.
We worked with Event Communications on this aspect of the project. They are highly experienced in delivering creative solutions for exhibitions and worked with our curators and archivists to develop the concepts and visuals for each of the galleries within the History Centre. Consultation work with local community and stakeholder groups to test these concepts also took place.
The physical plan
This piece of work looked at how the existing buildings (the City Museum and Art Gallery, the Central Library and St Luke’s Church) are integrated with a contemporary extension to the museum building. It also considered how the spaces between the different buildings will work.