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How a neglected storage area in Westminster Abbey was transformed into The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries – Wayfinding Graphics

How a neglected storage area in Westminster Abbey was transformed into The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries

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Opened in 2018 by HRH The Queen and HRH Prince Of Wales, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries are located in the triforium in the eaves high above the altar of Westminster Abbey.

Dating from the 13th century in the reign of King Henry III, the space has been largely unseen and rarely visited for over 700 years. Situated 52 metres above the ground, it offers a breathtaking outlook on the abbey itself.

Endpoint was brought in by lead designer Cartlidge Levene to support them in transforming this long-neglected storage space into a new gallery of over 300 artefacts and to restore the magnificent vantage point – once referred to by the poet John Betjemen as ‘the best in Europe’.

In conjunction with Westminster Abbey, MUMA Architects, and the abbey’s appointed Surveyor of the Fabric, Ptolemy Dean, Endpoint oversaw all aspects of the project – from technical design development to installation management of the wayfinding graphics.

Culturally Sensitive Branding

One of the unique challenges of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries project was to ensure the fixtures, fittings and signage integrated and respected the historical importance of Westminster Abbey.

All of the visual elements needed to be in keeping with the rest of the building. And with a brief of such high specification, the materials, sampling and prototyping needed to be of the highest quality. Quite simply, they needed to be fit for a queen.

Another aspect of working with such an iconic medieval building was the challenge of the installation itself. How do you install signs over uneven stonework and warped oak beams? How do you fix signage without drilling, bonding and anchoring to materials over 700 years old? And how exactly do you futureproof a signage fixing method?

Creative installation of wayfinding graphics

Endpoint collaborated with the designers and architect to create a prototype adjustable mounting frame for 44 artefact label signs.

Not only that, we also ensured that each one could be precisely fitted into uneven mortar with just two fixings. Our design meant that the frames could be drilled in-situ – to align with the mortar joints. Using a slotting system, the face of each label could be levelled.

To avoid damaging the ancient woodwork, we attached the label signs to french polished oak blocks, which were securely inserted into any available gaps. This way the overall look remained consistent – and allowed for expansion without damaging the original oak.

Restoring The Past for Future Generations To Enjoy

Combining contemporary techniques with traditional materials has culminated in a stunning and culturally sensitive addition to Westminster Abbey. The access staircase is housed in the new Weston Tower – the first structural addition to the abbey since 1745.

The wayfinding graphics bridge the past and the present, opening up the newly restored galleries to create a contemporary visitor experience whilst maintaining a deep reverence for this building’s historic past.

Photos by Marcus Ginns