Architectural framework for the Information Age Gallery at the Science Museum, including bespoke exhibits, displays and six innovative ‘Storyboxes’
Officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen, in October 2014, the Information Age Gallery is the Science Museum’s largest ever gallery and the UK’s first permanent museum gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies.
The ground-breaking, £15.6m space features over 800 unique objects from the Science Museum’s world-class collection and celebrates and explores the remarkable impact of communications technology and the stories around how we communicate. Objects include the first transatlantic telegraph cable that connected Europe and North America in 1858; the BBC’s first radio transmitter 2LO (from 1922); and the actual NeXTcube workstation computer used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee at CERN in 1989.
The space is divided into six sections that signpost distinct communication networks. It was important that each had its own identity, so we created six immersive ‘Storyboxes’ with double-height façades, each acting as a semi-enclosed environment that draws on a wide-range of media such as digital, video, animation and audio to help bring the stories of the gallery to life and encourage visitors to look more closely at the historical objects.
For example, the Cable Storybox evokes a Victorian period attic and features theatrical vignettes that bring to life the stories of telegraphy; the Telephone Exchange Storybox features audio stories that highlight the intimacy of telephony; and the Broadcast Storybox looks back on the history of broadcast communications by showcasing 17 of the most popular clips in broadcasting history.
An elevated, elliptical walkway contrasts with the existing orthogonal structure of the gallery, offering a different perspective of the whole and a close-up view of objects. Animated displays, interactive screens, large-scale graphics, projections, interactive games and audio are all integrated throughout, bringing the complex stories to life in a simple, engaging way.
Overall, the gallery is a fitting tribute to the objects and stories it contains, with engaging, participatory exhibits that are responsive, online and mobile.