One of the many adaptations that moving the African collection into the South Gallery on the First Floor has required has been adjusting to a space that is both smaller and considerably more open than the old Arts of Africa galleries.
Through a series of discussions and plans with Matthew, our Chief Designer, I have come to see that openness as one of the most exciting features of the new layout (instead of a problem to be overcome). The African Innovations galleries will be visible from many different angles within the Great Hall, and will allow visitors to move between the two spaces with ease, while still creating a number of separate galleries within the new installation.
The design cleverly use of a series of diagonal walls, aligned with the existing architecture of the building, to create seven distinct spaces within the installation, for each of the exhibition’s themes. These mini-galleries have the benefit of organizing related works in close proximity, while still drawing upon the openness of the original space.
If you’ve been to the museum in the last month, you have been able to watch this process play out in the open, at least in part. In that same spirit, here are a few “behind-the-scenes” shots to fill you in on parts of the construction and re-installation process that have been less visible.