London Museums

Leighton House Museum

Yesterday the weather was very typical London. The first half of it was CRAZY rain, but the second half was full of sunshine! Thankfully, I was out for the second half. I met up with a friend and started the afternoon with a visit to the Leighton House Museum

When I first walked in, I was a little confused on the coloration between the Victorian paintings, greek looking sculpture, the Persian figurines and God's word in Arabic. But it made sense because the museum is basically the house of the victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton. The house was built in the 19th century and he turned it into an art palace with the arabic hall with its golden geometric dome. From their website

Upstairs is the studio, where Lord Leighton did his art. When he died, most of the contents of the house were sold. The National Trust tried to fill the house with artists work instead of going after the previous collections. They also had a Temporary exhibit for Rudi Patterson, a Jamaican painter. His work was vibrant and whimsical. 

Overall, I thought the museum was really nice. The Arabic hall was spectacular and so cozy. I just wanted to stay there. They just need to add more LIGHTS. It was really dark to even see some of the pieces. The information folders also need some improvement. It was a quick inspiring visit.  

Victoria and Albert Museum

Happy Sunday All! Sundays are great to relax and to go around town. People are happy and everyone is mostly chilled out. I spent my Sunday with my friends at one of my favourite museums in London, The Victoria and Albert Museum (AKA V&A). 

This museum has collection from all over the world. It's known as a source for art, design and photography. Going there will give you a preview of the world's crafts and arts. Really worth a visit. *mashallah* Here are few pix I took on my visit today. There are more to see in person! :)

Glass sculpture over the reception area 

There were a lot of people drawing in this area


Such a gorgeous tea set!

Middle East & Islamic Art:

A tea set from the muslim world!

Islamic patterns

I love the colours combo and the calligraphy 

More Islamic Patterns 

There was a massive Quran there!

Persian Carpet! It was HUGE! this is just a little part of it

The Garden: 

The weather was gorgeous! super windy, but lovely. Perfect for a quick garden stroll. 


Make sure you go visit! 

Exhibition and Museum Design

The narrative is everything

Last week, I attended a lecture by Roger Mann from

Casson Mann

at the narrative environment event in

Middlesex University

. Mann took part in award-wining designs. He talked about a number of projects he completed. He also mentioned very useful tips that I summarised below.


Roger Mann

 on the right,


Great North Museum 

Newcastle upon Tyne


This museum was object oriented and there was a space in the middle of the museum that needed to be utilised. That's why the gallery took a vertical shape, which gave a dramatic look to the entrance.  Light was an important aspect and it shifted to different modes. Interactive screens were around to make the experience more interesting.  

Picture from the presentation

National Maritime Museum

Nelson, Navy, Nation. London

October 2013

This museum was also object rich. The subject of the museum was Nelson, the one who set the beginning of the British empire for the next 200 years. The number of items to be displayed was very big. Therefore, a narrative was a must to connect the items together. Some of the cases were especially designed to reflect the content. The quality of light was carefully considered as well to give a sense of reality.  

Picture from the presentation

Hollywood Costume 

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

20 October 2012 – 27 January 2013


Victoria and Albert  museum

 celebrated a 100 years of cinematic design through a temporary exhibition. The exhibit focused on the various Hollywood customs and the process of creating the character. The exhibit wanted to champion the role of the designer. The exhibit was made of three galleries and they were named after three acts. It took a year and a half to complete the design. The style of the exhibit was very reflective of Hollywood with the use of media and interactive methods.

Picture from the presentation

Picture from the presentation

Cité des civilisations Du Vin

Bordeaux, France.

In progress. To be opened in 2016

This is a wine cultural centre that is media focused. The purpose of this centre is to create appreciation of wine. Therefore, the design included many screens and interactive methods to compensate the lack of objects and items. A lot of aspects were studied such as visitor flow and how their fatigue could be avoided. 

Picture from presentation

The plan of the place. Picture from presentation

Picture from presentation

Imperial War Museum, Centenary

In progress. 

The first step of designing this museum was the narrative. It was drawn as bubble diagrams at first and it kept on improving. This project is both object and media focused. It brings almost 2000 objects with interactive media and screens. Initial models of the design idea really helped the client understand the design.

Research was the most important thing for this design because most of the ideas were drawn from war reality. For instance, the war happened during summer, so the colours of some imagery and designs were made to remind people of the right timeframe when the war happened. All the interiors were a result of research, neither fashion nor taste. Animation was also a big part of the design. Thus, actors and models were hired for some reenactments. 

Picture from presentation

The summer colours. Picture from presentation

Coloured labels were used to brighten the dullness of war.

Picture from presentation

Life size plane and tank were used as well. Picture from presentation

Picture from presentation

Silver lining in exhibition and museum design

Designers have to identify if the museum or exhibit they are designing is

object focused, media focused or a mix of both because each has different requirements.  

Advice for upcoming designers

  • Create an interesting narrative
  • Communicate a story to the audience 
  • Nest objects to create dialogue between them
  • Get to know the audience
  • Simplify the information and make it easily digestible

Importance of sketching for designers 

  • Immediate communication with clients and colleagues.  
  • Sometimes other media take too long.  

The British Museum

My absolute favorite thing in the whole of London is the British Museum. I could just spend a whole day there. It's just full of international culture and valuable wonders. I like their little audio tour guide at least you would know what's going on. It's a rich source for information and stories. It's only two pounds something to hire it if you have a student card. I think it's very worth it! Especially, that entrance is free. They also have some changing exhibitions every few months. Some of them require an extra fee to see. 

It's impossible to take a pic of just the entrance. It's always overloaded with people.

The design of it on its own is worth seeing. The building was completed in 1823 in the Greek Revival style. It was designed as four wings; North, South, West & East. In 2000, Norman Foster, an amazing English designer who is renowned internationally designed the glass dome reading room, which gave the building that contemporary touch making it a real example for two worlds colliding and creating wonderful architecture. 

The impressive glass dome with its pattern that reflects on the white structure and flooring 

Here's a picture round of of a trip I took down the museum: 

Started the visit with checking out the Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone. This is what started languages!

It's always crowded around it and the protective glass makes it hard to take a proper pic

A try for a Rosetta stone close up

After that, I followed the path to the Egyptian heritage and saw so many pharaohs. Most pictures had million people passing through, so here are few close ups  

If you love the pharaohs so much,

you can buy a little cheesy pharaoh duck as a reminder

I continued to the section about Africa

This actually spells an Arabic sentence! Can you see it?

It says المعرفة احلى من العسل  which means "knowledge is sweeter than honey"

Look at how the artefacts displayed

I really wanted one of these!

Then headed to Asia section

Followed it with the Islamic World

Old Arabic script

This is pretty interesting if you are into Arabic calligraphy

The 99 names of Allah written in Arabic

Close up!

I really loved all these patterns

 Then to a picture gallery that was on at that time

At the end, the gift shop is a must!

The book stand in the gift shop is full of interesting looking books!

They are organized by historical era and country.