In 1964, the Director of the British Museum, Sir Frank Francis, appointed the Museum’s first professional designer, Margaret Hall. The job description was vague, and the successful candidate later recalled that her only brief was to “see what I could do”. The decision to appoint a designer was not particularly innovative, by the 1960’s museums all across the UK had begun hiring professional designers. The exhibition designer Michael Belcher suggested that this was as a result of the “nation’s increased awareness of design.” Sir Francis and the trustees of the British Museum had recognised that a designer could play a vital and essential role within the Museum, but could not yet articulate what that role would or could become. Margaret Hall went on to establish the Museum’s first in-house design department, the Design Office, which became responsible for the design of all the Museum’s permanent galleries and temporary exhibitions. By examining the emergence of professional in-house design at the British Museum, this presentation begins to explore how and why museums across the UK came to realise and utilise the skills of the designer in the 1960s. It will consider the reasons for Hall’s appointment and examine the processes of exhibition-making she inherited, and how she set about to adapt, change and modify these practices.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Sep 2020|
|Event||Museum Exhibition Design: Histories and Futures - |
Duration: 1 Sep 2020 → 11 Sep 2020
|Conference||Museum Exhibition Design: Histories and Futures|
|Period||1/09/20 → 11/09/20|