National Maritime Museum
In July 2011 the National Maritime Museum opened the Compass Lounge to the public as part of their major new development - The Sammy Ofer Wing.
We designed the Compass Lounge to be a comfortable space where visitors can explore the museum's vast archive and understand it's contemporary relevance through digital technology.
The visual language of the space has been developed around the theme of navigation; it juxtaposes old maps from the archive with colours and symbols from modern digital mapping systems. This is applied to each wall of the space through a series of supergraphics that intersect small repeated patterns.
The space has three key interactive experiences within it, each designed to disappear into the architecture of the environment, creating a seamless integration with the walls and furniture.
The first is The Horizon Screen, a five screen panoramic display situated at the far end of the Lounge acting as an attractor, pulling people from the back of the wing and into the lounge. The aim of the Horizon Screen is to communicate the breadth of the archive. 4000 high resolution images form a sea of content that flows towards the viewer. The images are organised by their visual similarity to each other and visitors can roll through the content using a giant trackball.
The second key experience is The Plan Chest, a large map cabinet housing two drawers, each containing a touchscreen. Every time a drawer is opened the visitor is presented with a random slice of the collections from the archive. Five different image clusters reflect user activity from the online museum collection. Visitors can explore and interrogate high resolution images and then email these to themselves or others. When a user selects an image to view, a hidden LED display above the drawers shows the archive accession number associated with that object.
Thirdly, on entry to the museum visitors are given a Compass Card. The card allows them to collect stories centred around objects that are distributed through out several galleries in the Museum. The stories introduce a supporting cast of three historical characters and nine other objects in the museum. An object is collected by scanning the card at a collection point. The bespoke scanning units are wrapped in object specific patterns and allow visitors to scan the object and also emboss a little symbol on their card as an act of achievement.
Within the lounge are several touchscreen Compass Pods where visitors can register their cards and interact with the stories they've collected. An online version mirrors the gallery experience and allows users to start their own online collections at home.