A big thank you to Briony Jackson, Science Learning and Participation Curator at the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing & Sporting Art for writing this guest blog for us. It was a wonderful project and we very much enjoyed working with Briony and the team designing and installing both the showcases and object mounts. We highly recommend a visit!
‘Last year saw the National Horseracing Museum relocate and expand into its new home, a most fitting location in the former Royal Palace and Racing stables of Charles II. The National Horseracing Museum is joined by the Fred Packard Galleries of British Sporting Art and the Retraining of Racehorse Charity to become Palace House, National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.
This major redevelopment has been 15 years in the making, with a huge fundraising effort to raise £15 million with contributions and support from, among others, HLF, local councils, Wellcome Trust and private donations. Across the five acre site there are activities and displays for all the family to enjoy. The addition of live horses as living exhibits has created a unique new tourist attraction. The old buildings that now house the Museum and Gallery have been sympathetically restored to their former beauty and display a national and internationally significant collection of horseracing artefacts and sporting art. With the latest audio-visual and interactive technologies to interpret the collections, as well as a multi-media guide to help you navigate around the site, the National Heritage Centre provides a fun an exciting day out – no matter what your interest in horseracing!
The redevelopment has been a fantastic opportunity to expand exhibition topics and re-display existing stories within a truly apt historical site. The Museum has a varied collection, ranging from delicate and beautiful jockey silks, through horse shoes, taxidermy, hoofs as object d’art, 18th Century documents, trophy’s and sculpture. Added to this were a number of loan items including fossil specimens and spirit collections.
The design concept was that each gallery, presenting a different narrative, should have a distinct feel. The racing history galleries styled in heritage colours, whilst the science galleries have a contemporary feel presented in greys, whites and teal blues. The display cases need to subtly blend into these different environments.
The clean design of the cases and the colour matching of the interior fabric to the surrounding gallery achieved this wonderfully. The cases add to the aesthetic of the galleries but do not overpower the displays.
We have a variety of object displays; there are some big cases in small galleries but the lightness of the case design complements the spaces and places the objects at centre of the visitors attention .
There are big cases with a variety of object groups.
Contemporary cases blending with a country house style design.
Also smaller cases embedded within a graphic display and stand-alone cases which cleverly use base board lighting so the light mechanics do not obscure the internal display space.
The Armour Systems design and install team were easy to work with and, as we got used to our new cases, always on hand to help us find the different gel trays and how best to open large cases!
The mount makers, Museum Workshop, work under the umbrella of Conservation by Design. They were a pleasure to work with and really felt like part of the team, their experience and calmness in the face of ever advancing install schedules was invaluable.
Palace House is open every day from 10am – 5pm (apart from Christmas Day!) general admission is just £16.50 which is valid for a full 12 months from purchase, meaning if you don’t have the time to look around the whole site on your first visit you can come back again for free!’