Gilbert White’s home tells the story of his life-long investigation into the natural world. Hosted within an extension of the house is The Oates Collections. The collections celebrate two very different explorers of the natural world, Antarctic explorer Lawrence Oates and his uncle, British naturalist, Frank Oates.
We were chosen, by the Museum Trust, to bring the Oates’ stories to life within Gilbert White’s House. An HLF-funded project, we undertook detailed planning, design and implementation of the redisplay of the galleries.
Using a story-led ‘Soldier, Explorer, Hero’ approach, the Lawrence Oates exhibition leads visitors through his formative years with his family and early life in the army. This includes cases displaying his army uniform and other objects from the late Victorian period. Visitors continue their exploration by being immersed in the sights and sounds of the Antarctic and the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition of 1911-12. Stunning large format archive images, taken by official photographer Herbert Ponting, support cases displaying fascinating objects used by Oates, Scott and their comrades.
Film footage from the expedition is displayed on screens embedded in the graphics and a number of low tech’ interactives and a touchscreen are presented on packing cases. The third gallery enables visitors to reflect on the story and understand the legacy of the expedition and the heroic exploits of the men in Scott’s party who collected many samples for scientific research.
The latest gallery to be refurbished explores the life of Frank Oates. This gallery tells the story of this upper-class traveler with an interest in the natural world. On the walk through the Frank Oates Gallery, visitors begin by exploring his youthful inspirations right through to his explorations to Central America and Africa. Graphics panels, interactive display tables, artefacts and audio of Oates which is triggered through pressure on an upholstered chair are all used to bring this fascinating story to life. At the centre of one of the gallery’s rooms a jungle tree can be found. Hanging from the material covered branches are a number of silhouette species. The trunk includes rubbing plaques and paper and pencil for rubbing. A touchscreen pod invites visitors to explore Oates’ bird collection as well as play an observation game.
As well as the interpretation work of The Oates Collection, we have planned, designed and installed the welcome, kitchen and library areas. In addition, signage throughout the house and grounds was refreshed so it is in keeping with the refurbishments.