Context 160 - July 2019

22 C O N T E X T 1 6 0 : J U L Y 2 0 1 9 place our exhibition content. At the same time there was a requirement both to protect the restored structure by placing the new content within it in a way that required minimum intervention into the fabric of the buildings (via wall and floor fixings, lighting, etc), and to leave the restored wartime character of the buildings visible to visitors through and around the new displays. The displays themselves had to be designed in a way that was sympathetic to the historic atmosphere of the spaces. Both build- ings were quite industrial in character, including exposed steel framing and concrete floor sur- faces. It was possible to identify original wartime paint schemes. All of these provided cues for the exhibition designers to create displays which both revealed and responded to these materials. Protecting the restored fabric was a particular challenge for both projects. In the case of Hut 11A, this was achieved by building a largely free-standing framework around the displays which was sufficiently large and structurally rigid that it required only minimal anchoring to the building, but also left the original walls and floors exposed and visible. In the case of the Teleprinter Building, advantage was taken of the fact that much of the roof structure dated from the building’s post-war conversion, allowing exhibition elements to be attached and suspended from the ceiling, minimising intervention into the wartime floors and walls. One issue that has presented difficulties for the curatorial team has been that of controlling the environment for inclusion of collection objects of varying types, requiring specific conservation conditions. The buildings are not well insulated, unlike many historic houses, and frequently opening doors in relatively small buildings meant that to achieve stable gallery conditions a buildings management system would need to be employed. While this could be achieved for Hut 11A, and was justified given the original col- lections which would bring the story to life, this solution was not appropriate for the Teleprinter Building. This building therefore tells its story through an immersive film experience, featuring digitised collections material. The film is pro- jected on to a complex series of screens, which form an almost freestanding unit with minimal fixings to the building itself. Projection units could also be conveniently suspended from the later and less historically sensitive ceiling. The purpose of these two projects was not simply to restore these buildings by recreating their former appearance, but to tell their story more deeply by drawing on and explaining their function and significance. Feedback so far suggests that both projects have brought a new dimension to interpreting our historic buildings and story for modern visitors. Both spaces retain enough of their historic character that visitors still understand that the stories they are being told happened here, and at the same time we have been able to deliver the full range of contemporary interpretation techniques to meet the needs of our audiences. David Kenyon is research historian and Fiona Jenkins curator, both at Bletchley Park Trust. The D-Day exhibition in March

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