Britten Pears Foundation - Britten 100

GuM designed the permanent exhibition for the new Britten 100 Gallery at the Red House, Aldeburgh - the home of Benjamin Britten. GuM carried out the exhibition design in collaboration with Bright 3D for the interpretation plan, Thomas Manss & Co. for graphic design, DHA Design for lighting, Peter Key Sound Design for audio design and PT Projects cost consultants. The commission also includes designing the Britten Trail that follows a route around the town. The refurbishment of the buildings and the new archive have been designed by Stanton Williams.

This major new exhibition for visitors of all ages draws on the amazing collections at The Red House to introduce Britten and his music. Key documents and objects are brought to life with dozens of audio and video clips. This is an absorbing exploration of a complex genius, his sources of inspiration and his working methods as composer, performer and creative entrepeneur. Or, if you prefer, a chance to play ‘slung mugs’ and dress up as a Noye’s Fludde Panda.

Some of the most important treasures at The Red House are included. The displays address some questions visitors often ask, not just about Britten but also about the business of being a composer. The exhibition, designed by the award-winning GuM Studio, begins by recalling just how famous Britten was as composer and performer.

Britten’s own introduction to music came early – from his mother and from his first piano teacher, Ethel Astle, in Lowestoft. Frank Bridge was another important figure in the young composer’s life, both as a teacher and a mentor. Remarkably, Britten’s transition from talented schoolboy to professional composer can be tracked almost day-by-day from manuscripts, letters and diaries.

Composers are often asked what inspires their music. A darkly evocative room, based on a set model from the opera Peter Grimes, explores the many influences behind this pivotal work. The success of Peter Grimes in 1945 heralded an amazingly fruitful period in Britten’s life. Within a few years he had cofounded his own opera company, moved to Aldeburgh and helped establish a festival that became an integral part of his creative vision.

Finally, having traced Britten’s creative process from planning through to performing, recording and publishing, the exhibition ends by inviting visitors to complete what he called the ‘holy triangle’ of composer, performer and listener.

From Britten-Pears Foundation website