Caruso St John Architects

2014–2015
Location: London, UK
Client: The British Museum
Project Status: Exhibition Design

This exhibition, the third to be held in the British Museum’s new Sainsbury exhibition gallery, explores the Greek experience and its preoccupation with the human form. The exhibition has over 150 objects, primarily from the Museum’s own collections, but also has some significant loans which enables the show to tell the story of beauty in classical Greek art in a way that has rarely been possible before. The works in the exhibition range from the abstract simplicity of prehistoric figurines to the striking realism in the age of Alexander the Great. 

The aim of the exhibition design is to present this amazing collection of objects in a way that sustains the curatorial narrative of the show, but also allows the visitor to experience each masterpiece on its own, as a powerful artwork that remains affecting today. The general light levels in the galleries are kept low, so that the carefully lit objects are the prime focus in the visitors’ experience. The ten themes of the exhibition are laid out in six spaces defined by lightweight screens which make a setting for the groups of objects, but also allow the full scale of the new gallery to be understood, allowing for long vistas through the show. A palette of deep colours, taken from Pompeian interiors, form a backdrop to the marble and terracotta objects of exhibition.