The Brief

Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery at the prestigious Science Museum in London is the world’s first gallery dedicated to the often hidden – but never insignificant – world of technicians. In every sector of the economy there are essential STEM professionals at work, whether in laboratories, hospitals, factories, farms, breweries, power stations, music studios, or airports. Technicians work meticulously to bring about innovation and progress, making a difference in every aspect of our lives from health, to leisure, transport, energy and more.

In 2022, the museum opened a new public gallery to shine a spotlight on the work of these specialists in a dedicated space aimed at inspiring 11 to 16-year-olds to choose a technical career. With the current UK shortfall of 800,000 technicians set to increase due to unclear pathways into technical jobs, the goal was to invigorate the sector for the future with a highly interactive offering that would drive excitement. Partnering with the NHS, National Grid and even Marvel Studios, the gallery explores the multi-faceted lives and contributions of over 100 different technicians using dynamic, hands-on exhibits.

With over 400 printed elements specified across a range of materials, Leach was drafted in to project-manage Technicians to a high standard of completion. Technical by name, technical by nature, the Science Museum contract involved the production of many intricate printed signs, wallpapers and panels. With extensive experience in the visitor attraction space and an established relationship with the Museum affirming the company’s precise attention to detail, Leach was the natural print partner to deliver the cutting-edge results required.

The Solution

A key facet of the gallery was a replica of “Shuri’s Lab” from the Marvel Studios’ blockbuster Black Panther. The immersive life-size model allows youngsters to step inside and discover how to control film-set lighting, sounds and visual effects as a technician.

To dress the cladded outer surface of the lab, Leach crafted over 10 metres of Titan wallpaper – a durable, wipe-down-friendly material – depicting a colourful labyrinthine piece of art. Installed in sections, the wallpaper cuts followed the contours of the artwork to create a seamless appearance that did not detract from the detailed design. Leach’s installation specialists had to carefully apply the coiled lengths of wallpaper whilst working at height and navigating the cylindrical structure’s sweeping outer helix edge, a task that was completed without a hitch. Inside the lab, further custom wallpaper with a futuristic geometric print was installed.

Shuri’s Lab in Technicians The David Sainsbury Gallery © Science Museum Group
Shuri’s Lab in Technicians The David Sainsbury Gallery © Science Museum Group

At the entrance of the gallery, the Science Museum stationed an impressive aluminium frame in the style of an Airfix kit. Displaying replica tools and items of PPE alongside colourful photographs, each 3D element was a tactile, multidimensional representation of the technicians’ world. To enhance the module, Leach created fret-cut lettering attached to a ply backboard to form titles and inspirational statements amongst the components.

Entrance display in Technicians The David Sainsbury Gallery © Science Museum Group
Entrance display in Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery © Science Museum Group

Furthermore, a raft of printed steel panels were supplied in a multitude of shapes for installation throughout the gallery. Each was laser cut to exact specifications before being UV printed, lacquered and delivered to the museum’s contracted installers. Leach also provided responsibly sourced birch ply cladding at short notice to supplement the initial fit-out, which it precisely colour-matched to existing substrates on site.

Where Leach excelled the most was in the project management service it offered the museum, particularly in areas where challenges had arisen. From the sourcing of urgent specialist materials, the coordinating, scheduling and tracking of each of the 400+ graphics’ bespoke sizes, shapes, orientations and colours, to the high quality of printed products and the precision wallpaper installation it completed, Leach’s handling and delivery of the Technicians project was unparalleled.

A legacy for the future

Technicians: The David Sainsbury Gallery opened on November 3rd 2022 to much critical acclaim, with the gallery recently celebrating its one-year milestone. The Science Museum has recorded thousands of visits from youngsters during its first year and hopes to inspire thousands more long into the future, with the gallery sharing permanent presence in the historical institution. And as a result of the Science Museum’s satisfaction with Leach’s input in the gallery, the printer has been enlisted to dress an upcoming exhibit at the museum set to open in February 2024.

Eunice Wong, Client Project Manager at the Science Museum, said “Technicians are known and celebrated as problem-solvers, and so I’d say that Leach adopted a technician’s role in this project! They worked harmoniously alongside a number of other contractors throughout, being consistently professional, adaptable and diligent. Where and when challenges did arise, they were swiftly resolved with Leach’s know-how and organisation. In terms of the products Leach supplied, every panel, length of wallpaper and individual sign was of exceptional quality and the wallpaper was installed with incredible care and attention. I look forward to working with the Leach team again on future projects.”

Emma Felton, Head of Delivery at Leach added “We can offer a full end-to-end service to ensure our client’s events, attractions or exhibits are seamlessly executed. From sampling and prototyping, experiential R&D, product design, artworking, quality checking and installing, we offer the full package when it comes to print. I’m thrilled that we could demonstrate our skills in the Technicians project and help the Science Museum create a fantastic space in which young people can find a passion for technical careers.”

Do you need inspiration for your next exhibit? Looking for a printer that understands the museum sector and its specialist demands? Look no further than Leach. Contact the team to kick-start your project today.


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