By Grace Roberts, Exhibition and Display Assistant
Our job in the Exhibitions team is to design and install the exhibitions and displays within the museum. This includes designing the gallery plan, choosing colours and fonts, designing the graphics and labels, physically installing the exhibitions, along with many other things! Power of Stories was such an exciting exhibition to work on as I have always been a big fan of Marvel films, and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the costumes from one of my favourite Marvel films was such a privilege.
We began installing Power of Stories in June after many COVID related pushbacks! It was such a relief to finally be installing the exhibition we had been planning for so long, especially as we knew it would be a very significant exhibition to many people. We began by installing many of the large-scale graphics you see in the exhibition (it’s great to get the tricky stuff out the way first!). It was so worth the effort – the image of Shuri and the large-scale comic art provides so much impact, colour and context. They are some of my favourite elements of the exhibition. They also make a great spot for a selfie!
I took a lead on many of the case displays within the exhibition. I have always been passionate about making cases look beautiful. Even though they are a small, enclosed area of the exhibition, I love to experiment with display methods to create an interesting and visually pleasing display. My favourite case in the exhibition is the case with the magic lantern, Asante gold weights, Cinderella tea set and missionary statue. There is such a mix of intriguing objects, yet the display works really well and when they are all displayed together, the stories these objects tell become even clearer.
The most exciting day of the install for me was when the costumes were finally taken out of their crate and put on their beautiful, custom-made plinth! We could see the detail and craftmanship of the costumes as soon as we removed them from the crate. It was amazing to compare seeing the costumes in the films to seeing them in person. I was so impressed with Okoye’s costume, the gold armour was stunning paired with the rich, vibrant oranges and reds of her leather suit. The attention to detail was astonishing. I loved discovering that Black Panther’s suit was covered in Wakandan script, which we used as inspiration for the exhibition. The plinth the costumes stand on was custom-made and lit from underneath with purple ‘vibranium’ coloured lighting. It’s the creative thinking that brings objects and exhibition design together that makes my job so interesting and always keeps me thinking!
Since working within the exhibitions team at Ipswich Museum, I finally understand the huge amounts of preparation that putting on an exhibition entails. The hard work is all very much worth it when the exhibition opens and the public get to come and enjoy it! Power of Stories is an exhibition I am very proud of and will remember for the rest of my career. Wakanda Forever!