The Compass Lounge is a flexible space that invites visitors to relax and explore the National Maritime Museum’s vast collection. There is a playful interplay between the physical furniture and digital content to reveal hidden connections between people and the objects in the archive.
After 10 years of sustained digitisation, the National Maritime Museum developed a new website and lounge to showcase its vast collection. The purpose of both projects was to open up the museum’s collection and archive and induct museum browsers into a research experience.
The digital interactives within the Compass Lounge allow the Museum to display more objects. For example, the Horizon displays over 4,000 images from five collections – ship models, oil paintings, flags, uniforms and coins/medals – grouped only by visual similarity.
This view transcends Museum classifications, allowing thousands of objects to be seen without imposed interpretation.
The plan chest is a physical embodiment of the Museum’s collections website. Wooden drawers are pulled out to reveal large touchscreens, each showing the most popular objects – how many times objects have been viewed, shared, added to a personal collection or tagged. In doing so, the plan chest showcases the collection in use. A linked LED installation shows the relevant accession number, highlighting this unique key to all information and media about an object.
A small selection of historic photographs is also displayed in the lounge, each label inviting the public to contribute their knowledge to the Museum’s records. The display will be refreshed twice a year through a process of co-curation with the public.
Every visitor to the Museum is given their own Compass Card to reveal the hidden connections between people and the objects in the collection, in the form of beautifully-packaged stories.
Visitors collect these stories by stamping their Compass Card at objects that are displayed in the Museum’s permanent galleries.
They’re then sent a free, customised ebook, which is a digitised book from the Caird Library. The selection of the book is determined by the objects the visitor has collected, as is the cover, which is overlaid with the same symbols that are embossed on their card.
Finally, the visitor is invited to make an apointment to view the ‘real thing’ in the new archive reading room.
Digital media: Dundee University, Gooii, Kin, Knowledge Integration, Liminal, Renderheads
Build contractor: 24 Design
Graphic production: BAF Graphics