Station Hall redevelopment starts

I’m Joe Savage, an Interpretation Manager at the National Railway Museum. I work with the exhibitions team and I am always on the lookout for fun ways of interpreting our spectacular objects (as well as the objects that are less spectacular but fascinating nonetheless).

This is my first post about the most exciting project I have ever been involved with – the redisplay of the Station Hall. There, I’ve got my childish enthusiasm for this project out in the open early on… though it will probably be a constant theme in the weeks to come.

Station Hall is a well loved space, but we have made few significant improvements to the space since it opened over twenty years ago. Piecemeal changes have left the space feeling incoherent, albeit full of potential.

Our starting point for thinking about enhancing the Station Hall was our visitor feedback. Through visitor research we found that people loved the atmosphere, the architecture and the feeling of being in a station, but that they found the tired exhibits and the tricky visitor routes frustrating. We decided to play to the strengths of the hall, focusing on the objects, real people stories and the architecture.

We have only just started to work on this hall and already we are getting a glimpse of how evocative it could be.

The size of the Station Hall only really becomes apparent when the vehicles have been shunted out.

This photo shows what it looks like behind the Station Hall hoarding at the moment. We are shunting the vehicles into new locations. With the doors open, the trains out and most of the platforms cleared of exhibition structures, the Station Hall looks vast and airy – an authentic railway environment rather than a traditional museum space.

This sense of scale has simply been achieved by taking out the large, artificial structures. By the end of July, the hoarding will come down; the trains will be in their final positions; we will have introduced new platform objects; and we will have made much better use of the space. And that’s just for starters.

Over the course of the year we will transform the Station Hall into an evocative, immersive station environment. We will fill it with station objects for visitors to explore and we will tell surprising stories about travelling and working. We will work with visitors and web users to find the best stories, and most importantly all the development work will happen live, getting richer as we go and open to visitors throughout.

I really hope that you will get involved with this project – it’s going to be an exciting journey

This blog will be a source of information about the Station Hall project but it will also be a way for us to get your input. We will trial interpretation, ask for your own stories about travelling and seek your opinion on difficult choices. We want this project to be as collaborative as possible.

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About Joe Savage, Interpretation Manager

I am an Interpretation Manager at the National Railway Museum. I am interested in finding new and beautiful ways of bringing the story of railways alive.
This entry was posted in Museum news, Rail vehicle collections, Small object collections, Station Hall redevelopment. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Station Hall redevelopment starts

  1. Looking on the list, North Eastern Railway 1463 isn’t on it – where has it/will it be moved to?

  2. Sorry, I mean 1621, the express engine that is/was in the Station Hall

  3. Ruth Leach says:

    Hi Richard,

    I’m Ruth Leach, an Interpretation Developer at the National Railway Museum, and part of the team working on the Station Hall redevelopment. NER no 1621 has gone to Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon.

    Ruth.

  4. Mike says:

    What’s an “Interpretation Developer”, do we have a word in English for this job ??

    [comment edited by Mark – polite discourse only please!]

    • Ruth Leach says:

      Hi Mike,

      My role is to work with our curatorial staff, who have the specialist knowledge about railways and our collection, and to develop exhibitions, interpretation and other public-facing things for our visitors. Some organisations choose to refer to these roles as Exhibitions Curators or Assistant Curators, but we have chosen to focus specifically on the interpretation element – taking all the fantastic stories that our collection can tell, and making them engaging and accessible for the wide range of audiences that we get through our doors.

      Hope that has helped to clear it up for you.

      Ruth.

  5. Thanks Ruth, much appreciated

  6. Had another quick browse and the horse-drawn fire engine isn’t listed, has this been moved elsewhere too? Thanks for your help

    • Ruth Leach says:

      Hi Richard,

      That has also gone to Shildon, as has the LSWR horse ambulance. All the other road vehicles are staying in Station Hall.

      Ruth.

  7. Oliver Morgan says:

    Hi,

    I visited today and was impressed the rakes looked realy good. However I was shocked to she Princess Alexandra’s saloon behind Gladstones’s first coach. it doesn’t look right there and spoils the feel Gladstones train. I also saw that Boxhill was still in the Learning Platform so you couldn’t see her very well. My suggestion solves both problems. Gladstone is moved forward to the front of the platform, The LMS coach is moved forwar to meet Gladstones first coach then the stair are moved behind the LMS coach, after the coach Boxhill is placed with Princess Alexandras coach last and the the ramp.

    • Ruth Leach says:

      Hi Oliver,

      Thanks for your comments – I’m glad you liked the new line up. For the moment Boxhill will be staying in the Learning Platform – our Explainers use the loco to illustrate their science shows and give real life examples of how scientific principles are used on the railways.

      Ruth.

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