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National Museum Unveils Dramatic Transformation

29/07/2011

The National Museum of Scotland opened its doors in July after undergoing a £47.4m makeover.

Among more than 8,000 objects displayed for the first time across 16 new galleries are a life-size cast of a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummies and an exotic bird stuffed by Charles Darwin himself.

Architects, Gareth Hoskins, alongside exhibition designers, Ralph Appelbaum executed the ambitious three-year overhaul. ClickNetherfield was contracted by museum fit-out specialists, Beck Interiors to design, manufacture and install 168 showcases over 15 of the new galleries at the museum.

A fascinating challenge for us on this project was the new bespoke hinged system we designed for Ralph Appelbaum.

Ordinarily, you’d think that a hinge for a piece of glass would be simple, but when that hinge is fully visible, has to support a glass door weighing up to 200Kg, and be able to close with precise geometry that hermetically seals to an adjacent flush glass panel, it becomes quite a different challenge.  Our existing hinge system achieves this using a dual action opening mechanism with two arms mounted within the system channel or within a 150mm wide stainless steel or powdercoated aluminium block.

The seemingly impossible challenge from Ralph Appelbaum was to achieve the same performance but from within a 50mm square hinge housing.  The use of laminated glass was a pre-requisite for the museum so solutions that may have been possible with toughened glass were not an option.  However, with some cunning lateral thinking, our clever design team at ClickNetherfield rose to the challenge and delivered this fully customised solution that has been used throughout the stunning new galleries.

The project to completely revamp the museum on Chambers Street in Edinburgh’s Old Town was jointly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Scottish government and private donors.

Former storage spaces have been converted into grand public galleries. Exhibits stretch across two former museum buildings which have been joined up for the first time. The building of the former Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art will house objects obtained by Scotland’s great explorers and scientists, while the neighbouring section will display items charting Scotland’s own national heritage.

In total 26,000 objects will be on show across 36 galleries, making the museum one of the UK’s largest.

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