The Problem
The Writer's Museum of Edinburgh is a historic building in the old town, currently housing the exhibits of 3 major Scottish writers. I undertook this project to rethink and redesign the entire building. The interpretation of the museum has not been changed in nearly 30 years, making this the prime location to completely rethink.
The Process
The Concept.
The new interpretation at the Writer’s Museum of Edinburgh will focus on writers of Scotland including historic and contemporary. The new theatre space will allow for events and give a home to the writer in residence. Finally, the new mobile app will give visitors a place to find new information. The new interpretation will focus on writer’s, their works, and their stories.
The Design
The New Layout.
The Basement.
The Shop is an important piece of the marketing puzzle for the museum, but currently takes up the most prime real estate of the building. By moving to the basement, they can play crowd control to the theatre and still be accessible to visitors.
The Theatre/Event space will be created as means to house speakers and events like: storytelling, poetry, and illustrations. When the space in use there will be a curtain which can be drawn for privacy and to help avoid extra noise from the shop space.
The Ground Floor.
The Reading Lounge will be filled with bespoke deigned bookcases each dedicated to different authors, or contemporary literature of Scotland. All books found in the reading area can be purchased in the shop found in the basement of the building. Mixed in with the bookcases are chairs and comfy sofas, all for the pleasure of the visitor. A panel case full of information regarding UNESCO and how it operates will be displayed on the way into the main corridor. In this case is also a list of UNESCO events and how to get involved.
The Robert Louis Stevenson exhibit will be housed behind the reading room and will include four different displays:
Bookshelf of Works: The bookshelf is an exhibit of all of RLS’s work. The books can be pulled from the shelf and inside are images and text about the inspiration for the story, the history of how it came to be, or the importance of the story to the time.
Large Portraits: The large images of Robert Louis Stevenson at various points in his life will line space. Each one gives insights to the things that happened in his life at that point.
Item Collection: This installation will display a few of his and his wife’s personal belongings in the museum collection. Large images of both people will displayed on boards and custom made glass cases will hold the items in the place it would have been used. (i.e. The shoes of Robert Louis are located on his feet, and the bracelet of Fanny on her wrist.)
Picture frame: The picture frame is a digital screen where a loop of the museum’s collection of personal images is displayed.
The Sir Walter Scott exhibit is housed in the first room in the main corridor and will include four different displays:
Scott the Poet: This interpretation panel looks at Sir Walter Scott’s early life and his poetry which brought him much success. Through the visual aid of ‘Writing’s on the Wall’, the life Scott had and his poetry come alive and share the beginnings of his story.
The Wizard of the North: This area takes a look at Scott’s writings he published anonymously. Through a visual panel and shelf of “book shells”, you will hear the story of how Scott became a poet and then a novelist all the while remaining a secret to the public at large.
The Many Faces of Scott: An interactive installation screen that explores the many other things Sir Walter Scott did in his life time. Each section tells a brief history through audio and visuals. Many of the stories will lead to other places of interest to visit in the city. The main screen is home to the 7 faces of Sir Walter Scott, each is a deeper look into his life and what that part meant for Scotland. The screen is fully touch functioning, spanning the entire wall. Click any image and you will pull up that story. The persona pages are a scrolling plethora of images, text, and clickable multi-media. The screen tells the story from early history up to the time of his death. Each persona gives a different perspective of his life and death.
The Robert Burns exhibit is housed in the back room of the ground floor and will include three displays:
Life of the Ploughman: Interpretation panels which look at Burns life and death through the many different publications and life adventures he had.
International Man of Influence: A closer look at Robert Burns’ influence on the entire world, from his birth up to today. A large motion graphic wall map with color coded countries shifting through time – the more blue the more influence he had. Below the wall map is a table of information for most influenced country (outside of the UK) during specific time periods.
A Burns Feast: A table set up with all the traditional food and drinks of Burns Night. This table uses the items set out to explore, describe, and emphasis the intangible cultural heritage of participating in the yearly tradition.
The First Floor.
Scotland is still a major player in the contemporary world of literature and Edinburgh is dedicated to sharing this passion with the world. The Contemporary Writer of Scotland is quarterly rotating exhibit that displays the most current and popular Scottish writer of the time. It includes two displays:
May I Introduce: This portion of the exhibit introduces the current contemporary writer on display at the Writer’s Museum. This section includes an image, collection of work titles and dates and what the author is best known for.
Influenced by: This motion graphic panel is set up by researching and/or asking the writer who they are influenced by and it creates a chart of influences leading up to the current writer. People who come through the exhibit have the option to add their name to the chart if they feel they have been influenced by this writer, thus creating a larger and more encompassing understanding of the current writer’s impact on the world.
The Writer’s Museum of Edinburgh is about to add a new tradition to the museum by adding a Writer in Residence. Like other cities around the world, Edinburgh also hosts it’s own called the Edinburgh Makar. The first floor hallway space will be dedicated to the displays of both the Writer in Residence and the Edinburgh Maker. These two individuals will be given space to post new work, communicate with the locals, and share their history. A running timeline of Makar’s will be run along the length of the corridor.
Second Floor.
Although this museum is currently the home to writers, it is actually housed inside a home. Lady Stair’s Home, is a historic building and of great importance to the city of Edinburgh. The Lady Stair’s Home exhibit will include two displays.
Home through the Ages: This digital exhibit will feature a short visual video that shows the Lady Stair’s home through the ages—what it looked like, how big it was, and what lay next to it.
History and Storytelling: The house is home to many folk tales and lore. The history of the house is shared through text in the form of a story. The history of the home culminates in its use as the Writer’s Museum.
Eyes of the Past.
The Writer’s Museum is a tiny space, and as such cannot put every single thing they keep in the collection, or other collections of other museums, into the exhibit space. This is where the Writer’s Museum App comes into play. It will be able to give more information on topics of the users choosing.​​​​​​​
The Solution
This project culminated in a proposal submitted to the Writer’s Museum for consideration. Funds have prevented the museum from making any further plans on changing the layout, space, or updating the exhibits.