Designed by Casson Mann to showcase the Natural History Museum’s most significant objects and artifacts, the Treasures exhibition in the Cadogan Gallery opened in November 2012 to fantastic reviews, such as Sarah Crompton’s review in The Telegraph: every object tells story about the history of natural science
Have a look at a selection of the objects on display here at The Guardian‘s picture slide show.
About the design – Casson Mann has created a simple, dramatic, centrally placed display plinth that enables the carefully chosen specimens to be the focus of the room. Roger Mann, co-founder and director explains the concept: “We felt that these remarkable objects, spanning 4.5 billion years of natural history, with their equally fantastic stories of discovery and relevance deserved to be marveled at, and this lead us to create a modern interpretation of the cabinet of curiosities”.
The objects, each with their own unique story, are displayed in individual cases to be discovered and appreciated alone – but held together by their significance and relationship to one another and the Museum in the strength of this single form.
This monolithic plinth, hewn out of black polished and textured granite, forms undulating blocks that support glass display cases of varying heights, each one showcasing objects as diverse as a dinosaur tooth, a meteorite, and an emperor penguin egg collected collected during Captain Scott’s ill-fated expedition to Antarctica.
Some of the objects, such as the first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, are famous and instantly recognisable. Other items are less familiar and need their stories told with imagination and flair to both enthrall and reward visitors. As one incredible, surprising and important story after another is revealed visitors will begin to appreciate the tenacity with which humankind has attempted to explore, understand and celebrate the power and wonder of nature.
The stories behind each of the objects can be discovered through interactive digital labels alongside each case. Featuring the most engaging aspect of each story on the first screen visitors can move through 8-9 screens, each telling a different aspect of the specimen’s story. To lend warmth and animation to the gallery, LED lights wash the front of each label stand with a subtle colour ‘wash’ that changes to reflect the colour palette of each digital screen. These moments of changing colour beautifully compliment the stained glass windows of the gallery.
Museum Director Dr Michael Dixon says, ‘The opening of Treasures represents an exciting future for the Natural History Museum. By inviting the world to explore the highlights of our world famous collection in this permanent gallery, many generations of visitors will capture their own unique insight into our natural world.’