The brief given to Haley Sharpe Design (hsd) was to create an experience that reveals the physical and cultural aspects of Victory’s rich history from ‘acorn to icon’. Weaving through time, the gallery charts significant events from the laying of her keel to the huge ongoing conservation effort to preserve the nation’s flagship.
As hsd conceptualised the new visitor experience, the company paid homage to the craftmanship and traditions of the ship whilst also creating a fresh, contemporary palette for the revitalised storytelling. The use of materials and illustration, too, helps the gallery showcase how tools were used and the vessel was built.
People stories are delivered throughout using embedded immersive media as well as being woven through tactile elements and soundscapes.
At the start of the gallery, the showpiece immersive film The Remarkable Survivor, developed with media partners ISO, presents the most compelling highlights of HMS Victory’s amazing career. Vivid live-action recreations with real historical characters combine with original archive imagery and footage to bring each event to life, resulting in a visceral cinematic experience.
Visitors encounter displays of large objects as they explore the spaces, with supporting interpretation encouraging audiences to think about how each artefact represents a moment in Victory’s lifetime. Supplementing these displays, physical interactives provide opportunities for family learning, including dress-up opportunities, 3D models and tactile displays of construction materials and conservation methods over time.
Together with the client team, hsd explored a refresh of a thematic colour palette used to represent the various themes. The firm also experimented with direct printing onto old and new materials to highlight the history of the ship and the continuous restoration and conservation efforts used to preserve her today.
To create the gallery introduction area, for example, the Victory’s preservation teams supplied hsd with recycled timber from the vessel, which was then used by graphic suppliers Leach to print large quotes and statements on.
Another first for the project is interpretation on the new below-ship walkway. “One of the most amazing aspects of this project was to create a series of interpretative graphics that are placed on the new walkway that allows the visitor to view under the ship, and for the first time in history people will be able to get up close to parts of the ship that have been hidden away for years,” notes Deevyash Vadher, lead graphic designer & associate at hsd.
As with many projects impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, this scheme at the National Museum of the Royal Navy required the hsd team to adapt to the changing delivery timeframes and site requirements.
Marcon completed the fit-out of the museum, including the manufacture and installation of the specialist joinery setworks and object mounts within the new gallery. Marcon’s project team also coordinated and managed all of the specialist subcontractors such as AV hardware, graphics, display cases and interactives.
Martin McErlean, heritage contracts manager at Marcon, says it was “wonderful to play such an integral part in the creation of The Nation’s Flagship gallery”.
Completing a major museum project during a global pandemic, he continues, “presented a real challenge to our team, but through working collaboratively with the National Museum of the Royal Navy team and our talented supply chain we were able to deliver a world-class gallery that showcases the iconic HMS Victory”.