Post-it to plinth

14 Feb 2018


I’m Darren and I’m the Senior Exhibitions Officer at Colchester + Ipswich Museums. I manage the Exhibitions Team and plan the programme of forthcoming and future exhibitions across the two towns.

In order to do this, I work closely with the Collections and Learning Team, made up of Curators, Conservators and Collections Information Officers to develop our exhibitions and displays.

My tools of the trade for producing these schedules effectively are spreadsheets, Gantt charts, drywipe boards and pens and post-it notes. All essential kit for the difficult task of making sure everything stays on track!

It’s not all post-it notes and Gantt charts though, as a lot of my role requires creative and design-based work. Working closely with my team, I am responsible for leading the exhibition and gallery designs from concept to completion. Together, we plan gallery layouts, design the exhibition aesthetic based on the theme, content and objects and finally produce nearly all the exhibition interpretive material in-house (please read Sarah Broome’s blog for more detail!).

One of our most recent exhibitions is Thomas Wolsey: Ipswich’s Greatest Son at Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich. For this exhibition, the entire look and feel of the gallery had to change. Suddenly, post-it notes were replaced with fabric swatch samples, pantone books, paint charts and adhesive vinyl for on-wall graphics. These were exciting times! Working closely with the Curator around narratives and storylines to create an exhibition space that would lead visitors through the story of Wolsey’s Ipswich, the man himself and his tragic demise.

All centred around significant loaned objects. The layout of the space is essential to orientate visitors around the narrative of the exhibition. As well as 2D design skills, my role also requires very practical, hands-on construction skills, such as creating a structure for the Tudor fire surround in the exhibition:

The very different spaces we install exhibitions and displays in create their own, often exciting challenges and I frequently work on several projects at once. As an example, while the Geology and Climate gallery was in its installation phase in the Natural History Museum, Colchester, I was also planning and designing a 1960s themed exhibition for the chapel in Colchester Castle. So, very different spaces showcasing a range of disciplines. Here I am, installing a display in Hollytrees Museum:

I think this is the reason why my role can be so interesting. The old adage, no two days are the same certainly applies. I am also fortunate that as my work is creative, and as such, visual, I get to see the fruits of my labour when the exhibition is complete. However, it also means that my work is there for all to see!

Best be off, there are a number of future exhibitions to work on!


Where will your adventure start?