Winning the tender

In the Autumn of 2013 Benchworks won the tender to provide fit out services to the British Museum for their upcoming exhibition – Vikings: Life and Legend. This temporary exhibition was to be built in a brand new exhibition space in central London and we knew the project would come under close scrutiny.

Having established an excellent working relationship with the museum after working on many previous Projects such as: Beyond El Dorado, Italian Drawings, Shakespeare and others, we knew this exhibition would call upon Benchworks’ full skills set, expertise and experience.

The build

Offsite build began in mid-September 2013. Benchworks’ Design Development team, working with RFK architects began to develop RFK’s concepts into production and working drawings for approval and manufacturing. Our 10,000 square feet manufacturing work-shops were a buzz of activity through the Autumn and Winter months, with manufacturing being completed off site. This helped minimize disruption, not just for the British Museum team but also for the base build contractors delivering the new space from basement upwards.

Experience & Planning

Our years of experience working in new build spaces such as The Shard and the Giants Causeway Visitor Centre, enabled us to develop detailed plans to ensure potentially complex logistics were scheduled and managed to meet project deadlines and space confines.

Paul Sumner, Director of Benchworks said:

‘We knew the project was going to have its challenges, especially as we were looking to install elements for the exhibition in the middle of a base build. Fortunately Benchworks’ experience of working in new build spaces was crucial to the project. We know that the key to everything working to plan is having good communication with the other contractors, careful planning and a willingness to work flexibly so that everyone’s needs can be met.’

Project Handover

After 1500 hours Design Development, 5000 hours of manufacturing and 4500 hours of installation, Benchworks completed final handover of the space to the museums curators in February 2014.

Asked what the highlight of the project was for him, Paul Sumner said:

‘One of my highlights was the Private View, a week before the exhibition opened to the public, in the presence of royalty, as the Queen of Denmark was in attendance. I really felt that the team at Benchworks, who lived and breathed this project for so many months, had truly turned a vision into reality. It was immensely satisfying and I really felt proud to be part of the whole thing.

That said the best bit was when I was talking to one of the other attendees at the Private View. I mentioned that my firm had done the fit out for this ‘temporary exhibition’ and they let out a huge gasp – horrified that all our craftsmanship in terms of build quality was being removed in just 6-months’ time! With that kind of reaction and the positive feedback from our client, I know we have done a good job!’

The Vikings: Life and Legend, is on at the Sainsbury Exhibition Gallery until 22nd June 2014.

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