The Museum at Wordsworth Grasmere, the second phase of work at the former Lake District home of the great English Romantic poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, has opened to the public, with all gallery, exhibition design and interpretative overviews by Nissen Richards Studio. The first phase of work by Nissen Richards Studio encompassed the conservation and reinterpretation of Dove Cottage itself, where William and Dorothy once lived, plus the new identity for Wordsworth Grasmere and the scheme’s signage and wayfinding.
The new visitor journey, designed by Nissen Richards Studio in close collaboration with the Wordsworth Grasmere team, includes a series of threshold moments, such as a totem sign and the setting of words into the walkways, featuring fragments of poems going off in two directions, so that visitors see them clearly on arrival and departure.
The Museum includes a shop and ticketing area, before visitors enter a new, double-height orientation space, where quotations by Wordsworth are set within a dramatic, full-height light wall. Visitors then make their way to a former stable space that houses an immersive introductory film, before stepping over the threshold into Dove Cottage. Visitors return to The Museum via Dove Cottage’s Garden-Orchard, entering an expanded first floor space, loosely arranged into four new galleries. Galleries One and Four are set to one side and Galleries Two and Three to the other, whilst a pause space in between offers views onto the gardens and surrounding landscape.
‘It has been a privilege to work with Nissen Richards Studio and the wider creation team on this project. We are overwhelmed by the way in which the interpretation and design makes Wordsworth’s words live – you see them in stone and in lights as you arrive and leave; they are at the heart of the introductory film and within the home itself – and they are everywhere in the museum. As Curator and Head of Learning, I take special pleasure in seeing the manuscripts on which they are written come alive in the beautiful displays. The displays spark our imaginations into the lives of real people living 200 years ago and lead us to think of the relevance of their words for us today.’
Jeff Cowton, Curator & Head of Learning, Wordsworth Grasmere
The Wordsworth Trust
Grasmere, the Lake District, UK
Introductory film: Nick Street
Sound designer: Carolyn Downing
Lighting Designer: DHA Designs
Exhibition Contractor: The Hub
Graphics Contractor: Leach
Display Mounts: Colin John Lindley
Showcases: Armour Systems
AV Hardware: DHD Services
Museum Refurbishment Architect: Purcell
photography: Gareth Gardner
film: Nick Street