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Daniel, 3D Exhibition Designer, Australian National Maritime Museum

Hi my name is Daniel and I am the 3-D designer on the Charles Darwin exhibition at the Maritime Museum.

Well we try and focus on what it is that you’d actually enjoy and we try and focus on the objects that you may find fascinating and the story and try and explain what life would have been like for someone in that situation. So as we’re actually moving between spaces of the two galleries we’re actually trying to immerse you in the experience, so we’ve got excerpts from his diary that actually show you how he felt so it really does take you into the space so it is a transition and we try to make you feel that transition and it actually feels if you’re experiencing it for the first time.

What we did, we’ve tried to do with the show, we tried to separate the two spaces. We’ve got the north gallery at the top and we’ve also got gallery one which has a quite large space, so we try to separate the Beagle voyage, so we’ve got Darwin before the voyage, during and after, and we’ve looked at trying to separate the ideas from the voyage on the Beagle itself, so we have idea-driven sections, we’ve gone for a light blue or very light shade and where it’s much more material focus on the voyage itself we have gone for much darker, darker colour. So you sort get this treatment where you move from one space through the other where you visit the concepts and you also visit the physical material which inform the concepts.

The choice of colour — the green was trying to give the rich sensation, and also because we working with little objects which are very sensitive there’s quite a big difference with the amount of light we’re allowed to throw to these objects so where we’ve used the darker colour it allows it to receive so the object really stands out and has a bit more strength. And the concepts are the areas that have the lighter colour. So really we try to move between those two and you will see a copper colour which we use in the impact entrance and also in few other areas and that is to try to give it that rich, rich feel.

So as you’re actually working your way through the space, and you are moving through the ideas and through the artefacts, we’ve created sightlines so at every space when you’re looking dead ahead you’ve got something of great interest, be it a show case that is dramatically lit or an actual experience. And we also have a cabin which is a mock cabin which is a representation of the cabin aboard the Beagle, this is true to scale, quite pokey, quite small and quite interesting so you actually get an idea of how life aboard the Beagle would have been. And we’ve also got areas where we have walls with sections that are cut out and this allows you to see, get a glimpse of another part of the exhibition because as you’re going on the voyage and you’re working your way around you want to get a see-through to see what’s ahead. So we’ve used showcases which you can see through both sides, we’ve used cut outs so you can actually get a feel for this.

And one of the focal areas is actually a greenhouse structure which we’ve built and this greenhouse is to represent the greenhouse which he built at Down House. In this greenhouse we’ve actually got real plants, we are looking at plants itself, you can stand in the space you can see where his ideas were formed and get a greater feeling for what he would had experience. And our see-throughs and our sight lines that we focus on this greenhouse, a very tall structure, and the reason for this is that you can actually see it from large parts of the gallery, so you really get a sense that that’s what are you’re building to as you’re moving through the space.

We have a number of sound effects that have been employed we have … when you come through the impact entry you will be able to hear a soundscape and that soundscape is to try and immerse you in the luscious environment, and the original idea is more of a jungle feel, even though you might not immediately see it, it’s that sense of immersion as you immediately immerse and then you go into the space.
And we’ve also got a number of soundscapes throughout and some audio. So we have one excerpt which is from his diary when he explains what life is like in the cabin and how challenging a hammock can be to climb into and that excerpt is from his diary when he is speaking to his family and it’s actually quite cool.