New Permanent Exhibition at IWM Duxford / by MET Studio and IWM

Historic Duxford - Duxford's People

Experiential designers MET Studio have announced that they are working with IWM Duxford on a new permanent exhibition, which will focus on the former military airfield’s incredible war- and peace-time history.

The exhibition – Historic Duxford – which is due to open on Thursday 28 March 2013, is the result of a collaboration between MET Studio and the Interpretation and Collections Team from IWM Duxford. It will be situated in the old Watch Office, opposite the Control Tower, and aims to bring to life Duxford’s history as a fully-operational military airfield (from 1918 to 1961), for a family audience.

Historic Duxford - Duxford's Story

‘The project will encompass a trail around some of the historic buildings that visitors may not usually connect with’, explained MET Studio MD Lloyd Hicks. ‘Personal stories and testimonies will give visitors a direct insight into the lives of the men and women who lived and worked on this busy RAF base.’

‘The exhibition will combine sound, film, interactive models and original objects to paint a vivid picture of daily life at RAF Duxford’ commented Alicia Gurney, Exhibitions Manager for IWM Duxford. ‘Visitors can find out what it was like to serve in the Royal Air Force and how several generations of men and women were shaped by their experiences here.’
An introductory film will describe the first impressions of some of the 1500+ people who lived at RAF Duxford during its time of active service – using just a small part of the incredible archive of recorded testimonies that IWM has gathered over the course of several decades.

Historic Duxford - First Impressions

Importantly, the exhibition gives a textured and broad account of life at RAF Duxford, featuring not just pilots and commanding officers, but ground crew, domestic staff and cleaners. Visitors get a glimpse of everyday life at this famous fighter base, from leisure time occupations to living quarters, even touching on airfield romance!

‘Accessibility and inclusivity were absolutely key to the design of this exhibition’, Lloyd Hicks said of the overall design approach, ‘and not only with reference to the breadth of subject matter. We worked very closely with IWM Duxford and an access panel, formed specifically for this project, in order to design for the visually-impaired and hearing-impaired, as well as for visitors with physical disabilities. The 3D model of RAF Duxford is a good example, where we are using vibrating buttons and smells to represent the airfield, canteen and aircraft hangars, with carefully written audio directions to create an exhibit which is accessible to all.’

Historic Duxford - Military Community

The greatest challenge of the project was how to fit and integrate such a huge amount of information into the Watch Office space, which is only 90 sq m in total. The answer was ‘a crazy amount of design for such a small space!’ according to Lloyd Hicks.

Alicia Gurney added ‘The team have worked hard to create an exhibition that meets the expectations of visitors to a national museum and the interests of our family audiences as well as doing justice to the fascinating history of the site and the stories of those who lived and worked here.’

Historic Duxford - The Watch Office


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