What makes an exhibition space great?

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Jan 19, 2023 9:17 AM

Some exhibition spaces I’ve really enjoyed include the British Museum, particularly the Nereid Monument, and the California Academy of Science’s Indoor Rainforest.

While these are very different spaces, they both evoke a sense of monumentality, irresistibly drawing your eyes towards them. This is aided by the enormous size of the physical spaces themselves, and their large, central features. The Indoor Rainforest is a gigantic, multi-story dome with a miniature rainforest inside complete with trees, streams, and animals whereas the Nereid Monument gallery features an entire Greek temple plucked from its original location and reassembled, block by block, in its own big room.

Even if the main subject were identical, these spaces would be much less effective if they were smaller and more cramped. If you couldn’t see how large the subjects were, it would be much more difficult to appreciate their magnitude.


Indoor Rainforest at California Academy of Science


Nereid Monument at British Museum