I’m Joe Savage, an Interpretation Manager at the National Railway Museum. I work with the exhibitions team and I am always on the lookout for fun ways of interpreting our spectacular objects (as well as the objects that are less spectacular but fascinating nonetheless).
This is my first post about the most exciting project I have ever been involved with – the redisplay of the Station Hall. There, I’ve got my childish enthusiasm for this project out in the open early on… though it will probably be a constant theme in the weeks to come.
Station Hall is a well loved space, but we have made few significant improvements to the space since it opened over twenty years ago. Piecemeal changes have left the space feeling incoherent, albeit full of potential.
Our starting point for thinking about enhancing the Station Hall was our visitor feedback. Through visitor research we found that people loved the atmosphere, the architecture and the feeling of being in a station, but that they found the tired exhibits and the tricky visitor routes frustrating. We decided to play to the strengths of the hall, focusing on the objects, real people stories and the architecture.
We have only just started to work on this hall and already we are getting a glimpse of how evocative it could be.
This photo shows what it looks like behind the Station Hall hoarding at the moment. We are shunting the vehicles into new locations. With the doors open, the trains out and most of the platforms cleared of exhibition structures, the Station Hall looks vast and airy – an authentic railway environment rather than a traditional museum space.
This sense of scale has simply been achieved by taking out the large, artificial structures. By the end of July, the hoarding will come down; the trains will be in their final positions; we will have introduced new platform objects; and we will have made much better use of the space. And that’s just for starters.
Over the course of the year we will transform the Station Hall into an evocative, immersive station environment. We will fill it with station objects for visitors to explore and we will tell surprising stories about travelling and working. We will work with visitors and web users to find the best stories, and most importantly all the development work will happen live, getting richer as we go and open to visitors throughout.
I really hope that you will get involved with this project – it’s going to be an exciting journey
This blog will be a source of information about the Station Hall project but it will also be a way for us to get your input. We will trial interpretation, ask for your own stories about travelling and seek your opinion on difficult choices. We want this project to be as collaborative as possible.