A Design with a Difference

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Perth Museum and Art Gallery are digging deep into uncovering some old Perthshire Myths and Legends with their newest exhibition to uncover the truth behind the legends.

Becky Minto, who led the design on the Only in Whispers Exhibition set at Perth Museum and Art Gallery, tells us about the process in building a theatre set within a museum.

So Becky, what got you started in theatre set design?

When I was growing up in Liverpool in the 1980’s I would go to concerts nearly every weekend. Bands were starting to stage sets, video projection and lighting on stage and I was fascinated and inspired by the storytelling that supported the music gig.

I didn’t know that you could create theatre design as a career, I was studying Interior Design in Liverpool and heard of a course at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where you could study theatre design and so that's where the journey began.

What inspired you about this project at Perth Museum & Art Gallery? 

I have turned to installation art as a means of inspiration for a long time in my theatre work. I am fascinated by how an object can tell a story without any text.

This was a brilliant opportunity to explore this concept within a museum full of artefacts that indeed have their own story of history to tell. It was wonderful collaborating and learning from all the curators within their specialist field within the museum. A wonderful mix of theatre and history and storytelling.


What was the most challenging thing about recreating an old house in a gallery?

Strangely the basic structure of the house didn't prove to be challenging. Just lots of measurements to make sure that all spaces were fully accessible. Making sure the wood panelling connected to the beautiful floor of the gallery was important and Lorant the scenic artist developed many samples before we chose the right one.

Finding the right furniture that would feel of the right period took a while, as we had to make sure we could adapt the furniture so artefacts could be safely stored in drawers and cupboards with acrylic over the top to protect them.

Items were lit by James Gardner and Simon Wilkinson, with discretion,  so that it magically illuminated the objects.

I was very lucky to have the most wonderful freedom of viewing the museums painting collection and artefacts and working with Mark and Rhona, the curators to plan which paintings and curios we could use to enhance the storytelling of the piece.

What can visitors expect from their experience at this exhibition?

I hope the visitors will be curious about the transformation of the gallery. 

I hope the visitors will be curious about the transformation of the gallery and experience an interactive exhibition that will surprise, excite and be something they have not seen before. Ultimately this exhibition will be a fascinating insight into the Myths and Legends of Perthshire, told in an interesting format.

Are you excited about this exhibition? And do you think you’ll be interested in doing more museums exhibitions?

Yes, it has been the most wonderful time, it is the first time I have designed an exhibition and I hope it won’t be the last.

What is your earliest museum memory?

My uncle Ben used to work in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and we used to visit him and get the chance to look around the gallery out of the public visiting hours.

If time and money were not an issue, which museum in the world would you most like to visit?

State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia!

One last question, if you turned into a devious miscreant overnight, which object from our museum would you take and why?

One of the paintings…but I won’t say which one…just in case!


Tickets for Only in Whispers – The Myths and Legends of Perthshire are available now from Eventbrite. The exhibition runs until 9th June.

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