Leigh Cain Creative was commissioned to produce three concepts for the Royal British Columbia Museum between January and March 2014. The five zones and a theatre, within a 6000 sq ft space, tell the story of the 1858 Canadian Gold Rush in the Fraser River.
An exciting, enticing and rich exhibition designed with a wide audience of adult learners, families, schools and research students, the concept answered these needs creatively and practically. Beautiful RBCM First Nations artefacts, photographs by Frederick Daly, and object loans are displayed imaginatively, and several immersive experiences ensure that visitors exit not just with knowledge, but with enthusiasm about their very unique history.
This blockbuster temporary exhibition opens in spring 2015 for six months then tours internationally to the US and China, and other Canadian provinces.
Initially, hand drawn sketch plans help to visualise spaces, distances and depths before being drawn in Vectorworks.
Mood boards and inspiration are vital early on. Three options were given, and above shows the final choice. Timber, organic lines, blue light and gold will feature. The colours and curves relate to the flow and form of the Fraser River where most of the gold was found.
The photographs of Frederick Daly are a powerful influence of the mood of some of the exhibition. Gritty, hard and unromantic lives were led by all those who sought riches. They are on display throughout the exhibition, and were key to understanding the severity and determination of the gold diggers.
The entrance and introduction section set the mood for the exhibition. Leigh felt this area needed to represent a feeling of awe and anticipation. Once past the huge and imposing golden bank vault door, a darkened space, criss-crossed with gold laser lights, reveals one single showcase that houses the RBCM’s treasured ‘Turnagain’ gold nugget.
The allure of gold is a subject explored early on, and will display the RBCM’s own collection plus international loans of precious gold artworks. Leigh Cain Creative has used gold leaf as wallpaper with three suspended golden haloes above three showcases containing key objects.
Communication of the Gold Rush is explored in the third section, with AV projection and large graphic panels dominating the space. Original maps and graphic facsimiles, illustrations and paintings are on display. Walls and floor are muted and grey; with the objects creating the colour and movement.
In order for the team in Canada to clearly understand the space, the flow and the relationships and links between them, Leigh Cain Creative drew several axonometric views.
Leigh Cain is one of the UK’s best exhibition designers. She brings great qualities of communication and community to each project. By stressing the need for themes she provides museums with an immensely satisfying visual expression for their work. There is a grain to her designs, a movement, an equilibrium that renders it beautiful and meaningful to visitors.
Professor Jack Lohman CBE, CEO, Royal British Columbia Museum
Leigh’s experience of creating exhibitions meant we had three concepts to choose from well within the programme dates. A practical and aesthetic approach to exhibition design, she worked closely with our in house team in Canada and understood the complex brief easily. We are now building to Leigh’s final concept that our in house team developed through to detailed stage. It is set to be a very engaging and exciting exhibition’.
Mark Dickson, Head of Exhibitions, Royal British Columbia Museum
Leigh exceeded our expectations with her innovative and brilliantly executed conceptual design options for our Gold Rush: El Dorado in British Columbia exhibition. Working collaboratively with our in-house design team, curators and learning team, she quickly understood our brief and imaginatively interpreted all our objectives.
Michael Barnes, Exhibitions Project Manager, Royal British Columbia Museum
All images © of the RBCM