Graz, Austria – How should a museum look in today’s digital age? Not like a museum at any rate, according to Martin Lesjak of Innocad, the design firm behind a pair of new permanent exhibitions at the History Museum in Graz, Austria.
Showcasing Styrian cultural heritage, the two very different exhibitions in the former 18th-century Herberstein Palace called for contrasting schemes. In Schaudepot, the problem was how to present a huge collection of physical objects, as well as a digital archive. In the other exhibition, called 100 x Steiermark, the setting – a beautiful baroque hall – provided the challenge. The low budget was an additional restricting factor. ‘Our strategy was to create a low-threshold, varied experience,’ says Lesjak. ‘With Schaudepot, we wanted to give people the feeling of being in a contemporary warehouse and with 100 x Steiermark of being in an 18th-century palace.’
For Schaudepot, he continues, ‘all the materials used are existing industrial products that are flexible and adaptable’. The result looks more like a shop than a museum and is all the more approachable as a result. The lighting concept, with dappled patterns of light and shadow falling on floors and ceilings, was ‘inspired by the atmosphere you often find in attics’. The accompanying multimedia archive proves a complementary volume.
The second project, 100 x Steiermark, is meant to evoke ‘the private chambers of an 18th-century aristocratic family’. With the authentic baroque backdrop in place, the use of mirror and glass ‘dematerializes the exhibition elements and reflects history’, says Lesjak. Display units melt into the background altogether, while objects and setting emerge in sharp relief.