Casson Mann’s latest exhibition design project is unveiled today at the National Maritime Museum in London.
Nelson, Navy, Nation: the story of the Royal Navy and the British people, 1688 – 1815, is a unique gallery; the first to offer a broader perspective of the role played by Admiral Nelson and the Royal Navy in shaping public perceptions of national and international identity – so deeply influential in shaping British social, cultural and political history.
“Placing Nelson within the bigger context of the 18th century makes his story richer and more engaging” says Dinah Casson, “and we have designed this exhibition to help visitors empathise with how the threat and reality of war, the action of our Admirals and the rewards they produced, was felt by the British people”.
The 400 m2 exhibition space, situated on the second floor of the museum, takes visitors on an object-rich journey through dramatically different narrative environments that weave together the three thematic strands using lighting, sounds, displays and projections to stimulate the senses, encourage discovery and create connections between events on land, on sea and below deck.
Casson Mann’s immersive environments make sure that visitors feel part of the storytelling experience through “unexpectedly direct appeals to their natural sense of curiosity and delight in the unexpected”. No where is this more evident than at the first approach where the sounds and sights of the sea, the ship’s deck and the threat of cannon fire appear to burst into the gallery.
Equally engaging displays chart the lives and fortunes played out above and below deck, the action and legacy of mutiny and war, the extraordinary career, character and national glorification of Admiral Lord Nelson, and provide portals into an exciting period that continues to influence our contemporary world.
The increasingly dramatic spatial experiences culminate in the battle of Trafalgar and its aftermath. The variety of these experiences, the often surprising and personal stories they release and the frequent opportunities for the visitor to engage with and delve deeply into the rich history that underpins the collection and exhibition, create a unique destination gallery, rewarding the single visit but offering the returning visitor even more.
” In addition to revealing new things about Nelson and putting into context a hero of that magnitude“, adds Casson “we want visitors to leave the Gallery with a clear understanding that the story of the Navy is also the story of how the British people saw themselves and their place in the world – and still do, perhaps without realizing”.