Revealing the Charterhouse

GuM has been appointed as exhibition designer for the Revealing the Charterhouse project, which aims to open up the Charterhouse and Charterhouse Square to the general public and create new resources on site for visitors, schools and adult learners. The project includes the reception space, where the display will begin, the Norfolk Cloister and the Chapel Cloister & Chapel, where the narrative journey ends. The Charterhouse is the client for the work but the project is built on a partnership with the Museum of London, which is providing support and advice over the learning, curatorial and visitor aspects of the project.

The key aims are:

  • To introduce visitors to the present and past residents of Charterhouse ( brothers, school boys, masters, nobles, servants, monks).
  • To introduce visitors to Thomas Sutton and his extraordinary charitable gift
  • To evoke a sense of time passing and Charterhouse remembering the past
  • To act as a taster, stimulating visitors to explore the Charterhouse in more depth through tours, publications or web resources.
  • To support the learning programme

The concept is based on the idea of REMEMBERING, as a way for visitors to explore Charterhouse People, past and present. By steering visitors to a more intimate and reflective experience, rather than delivering a concentrated history lesson, the display will encourage visitors to develop a personal connection with the Charterhouse and leave them wanting to find out more through a tour. There is an ‘emotional / spiritual approach to the display, but it will be presented through people-centred physical exhibits and made accessible to the exhibition’s target audiences – which include children. In this approach, the memorials in the Chapel Cloister also become a meaningful part of the story, rather than just a visual ingredient evoking age and antiquity.

The scheme envisages a visitor journey which will broadly be a reverse chronology, starting in present day Charterhouse (the light) and going backwards through 600 years to the foundation (the dark). At each stage the past become more mysterious as personal memories become fewer, and surviving objects rarer. At the end, the very earliest residents are only remembered physically through their gravestones and skeletons. This light to dark journey will be expressed physically through the ambient light in the room. Visitors will follow a single visitor path which begins with ‘the window wall’ and ends on ‘the dark side’