Although it is highly unusual to find a heritage interpretation treatment within a commercial company, one of the Big Four accountancy firms wanted to bring the organisation’s heritage to life, along with the stories of the many individuals who have helped to shape the company since it was founded 160 years ago. The client started with no preconceived idea or understanding of the depth and breadth of their collection, nor a true appreciation of the importance of their role in the shaping of modern accountancy. Working in collaboration with the client we added depth to the display by instigating a oral history project, interviewing past employees, to tell their stories and reminiscences while at the firm.
As a starting point we grouped themes into three categories ‘People’, ‘Dynamics’ and ‘Business’, which became the springboard to an interpretation strategy that could change its theme every six months. Drawing on the historic archives, using anecdotal evidence, artefacts and film footage – and with the humble staff magazine playing a starring role – this is the story of working life through the eras, told through the fond eyes and wry grins of trailblazers, office characters, team players and mavericks.
Our innovative concept of a mixed media Pop Up Museum serves the client’s purpose of animating a specific area of an existing building with maximum flexibility and minimal structural interventions. The first Pop Up Museum opened on November 26th, within the gleaming futuristic surroundings of the refurbished offices, reminding staff that this is a vibrant workplace, whose culture and practices have been 160 years in the making. As far as we are aware, none of the other Big Four firms interprets its history with a dedicated display… and certainly not one as playful, engaging and accessible.