Open to visitors between 28th April 2023 and 25th February 2024, the “Return of the Gods” exhibition at the World Museum in Liverpool is the ultimate destination for any aficionado of the ancient world. From Aphrodite to Apollo, Dionysus, Hera, Hercules and Zeus, the most respected, powerful and dramatic Mount Olympus inhabitants are present in a curation of more than 100 sculptures and objects collected by the 18th-century antiquarian Henry Blundell of Sefton, which have never before been displayed together.
National Museums Liverpool (NML) appointed Leach’s heritage team in early 2023 – following a number of previous collaborations – to transform the space from floor to ceiling in readiness for the Gods’ return. The goal was to create a captivating, immersive and educational exhibit in which enthusiasts of the ancient could explore, linger and learn. With a family-friendly focus and a school visit schedule in place, the team at NML also wanted to weave in a comic book theme to make the wonders of antiquity appeal to the audiences of today.
Beginning with a detailed site visit to understand NML’s vision, Leach’s project managers set about planning and crafting a raft of graphic elements to bring to life the exhibit, which was carefully installed in two phases ahead of the grand opening on 27th April 2023.
To create a breathtaking entrance, Leach crafted a single sheet of seamless Titan wallcovering more than 14 metres long with striking geometric printed shapes on a dark background. 3D foamex letters and MDF panels overlaid the wallpaper featuring introductory text to set the scene of the exhibit, whilst background sounds and projected images ramped up the drama further. The wallpaper’s washable matt finish ensured that this main display in a high-traffic area was well protected from fingerprints, scuffs and scrapes. Leach also installed a second 7-metre-long Titan wallcovering inside the entrance, depicting an expansive family tree to add context to the celestial heroes and heroines on show.
Throughout the exhibit, the team of graphic experts installed a collection of printed wall vinyls to tell the secrets of the Gods, using a bold comic book-esque typeface specified by NML to excite and inspire. Furthermore, the firm’s vinyl-wrapped wooden paneling added a tactile feature to many of the rooms, with the placement of timber batons at intervals creating a sense of depth and shadow through its layered effect. Within the “Roman Villa” representation, Leach supplied curtain backdrops for a display of Roman Emperor’s busts in rich Soyang fabrics printed with ancient scenes. And to delight the crowds even from underfoot, the team installed an expanse of Print-Floor in the style of mosaic patterned tiles, a slip-resistant cushioned flooring specially designed for indoor exhibitions.
The crowning glory of all the printed elements were a number of showstopping “halos” fashioned fro\m Leach’s suspended curved fabric drum banners to sit above the most impressive statues in the exhibit. Each were printed with detailed scenes of clouds, trailing floral wreaths or natural landscapes whilst basking the gods beneath them in the light of royal red, purple or blue shades.
Working alongside NML’s contracting team, there was a Herculean effort from Leach’s installation team behind the scenes. The utmost care was taken to maintain the integrity of the grade two listed World Museum building as well as the ancient exhibits, especially whilst erecting the suspended elements. The “halo” aluminium frames ranged in size from 3m to 3.8m in diameter, so to ensure the ceiling could withstand their considerable weights Leach installed them only within pre-approved areas and secured the fixings with patressing methods. Several of these frames were fitted whilst the statues were seated in crates beneath, testament to the incredible care and attention of the installers and NML’s trust in Leach.
NML were keen to keep the environmental impact of the exhibit as low as possible by incorporating reusable components. With this in mind, Leach designed the halos to accept interchangeable fabric graphics so that they may be used in future exhibitions with different designs.
A Spectacle Worthy of the Gods
The Return of the Gods exhibition has inspired thousands of visitors in 2023 with its illuminating showcase of all the most magnificent, mythical and macabre details of the ancient heavens and underworlds. This success was made possible through Leach’s detailed mix of visual graphics that spanned almost every surface.
Kelly Hyde, Project Manager at Leach shared: “I always enjoy working with the team at NML as we have a great collaborative relationship. Together we always create the most impressive, innovative settings possible, to do justice to every theme. I felt incredibly proud upon attending the opening night event to see the exhibit in its full glory.”
Lee Kenyon, Senior Designer at National Museums Liverpool added “Leach were the natural choice of partner to deliver this project with their wide scope of print expertise. From the walls to the ceiling, the floors to the fabrics, they took care of all the details with a deep understanding of the brief and its goals. The feedback we’ve had from the public has been excellent.”
Do you need inspiration for your next exhibit? Or are you looking for a printer that understands the heritage sector and its specialist demands? Look no further than Leach. weareleach.com