Leeds City Council
Abbey House Museum, Kirkstall Abbey Visitor Centre
Once the gateway to Kirkstall Abbey, this popular museum continues to be a well-loved local attraction that captures the essence of life in Victorian Leeds.
Blue were asked to design every detail for the redevelopment of both the interior and exterior of each building in the three streets. With the curatorial team we developed a dynamic sound and lightscape, which was key to breathing life into the streets. The 24 minute cycle represents 24 hours in the life of the inhabitants, peopling the streets without resorting to traditional mannequins. The cycle also creates a unique atmosphere and immerses visitors in the experience.
The streets were originally re-built in the museum during the 1950s and portrayed a romanticised, chocolate box view of Victorian Leeds.
We worked with painstaking attention to detail, ensuring that the curatorial team achieved their aim to redevelop the streets with as much historical accuracy as possible.
Abbey Fold is the back street made up of dwellings, small shops and workshops.
A scenario was imagined for the inhabitants of each building so that each interior told the story of the people who lived there. The aim was to make each room feel as though the occupants had just popped out.
Harewood Square contains the Pawnbrokers, the Toy Shop and Sunday School.
We designed the fittings for each shop window not only to be functional, but also to allow the client team to display objects from the collection giving a rich, authentic feel.
The Childhood Galleries are designed around the themes hidden in nursery rhymes, such as child mortality, progress to infanthood, play and discipline.
Each section is themed to portray a nursery rhyme, which best represents the relevant point in the storyline. We created fun, cosy, appealing spaces such as the room-sized shoe, which has proved extremely popular with children.
Visitor book comments reflect the fact that at Abbey House we clearly achieved our key aim; to enable visitors to connect with the collection and storyline.
Our client and front of house interpreters are still delighted with the positive feedback the museum regularly receives.
Kirkstall Abbey Visitor Centre was our second major project for Leeds City Council.
A five metre high reconstruction of the lay brothersʻ lavatory dominates the space, creating a dramatic focal point to the exhibition. To ensure that the restored building was not obscured by the displays, we used freestanding units and wall graphics printed on clear acrylic.