Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War opened at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa on April 17th 2015, to mark this year’s WWI centenary. The result of the creative collaboration between the museum and Academy Award-winning special effects company WETA, the exhibition integrates the disciplines of film-making with exhibition design and immersive story-telling.
Visitors embark on a journey to the battle field, experiencing the triumphs and tragedies through the eyes and words of New Zealanders who served at Gallipoli. The haunting stories of seven men and one woman are relived through an ethereal landscape. This is explained through a range of interpretive media including audio, digital projections, graphics, collection items, memoirs, and extracts from personal diaries.
Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the musical score, written by award winning New Zealand composer and sound designer Tane Upjohn-Beatson, sets a tone of sadness and discomfort. Featuring over 100 speakers throughout the exhibition, the epic soundscape merges with voices, gunfire, and explosions.
The popular exhibition consists of 12 galleries, including 6 large circular rooms – each occupied by a giant figure built 2.4 times the scale of a human. Meticulously sculpted and stitched to capture facial expression, posture, and attire, the figures tower over visitors with striking realism. From grit under broken nails to teary eyes, the giants are totally lifelike – even down to the individually punched hair follicles on silicone skin. The combination of the visual and acoustic elements set the scene, bridging a connection between visitor and subject.
Acoustics were an important element in this particular exhibition. Ben Barraud, of 3D Designer Exhibitions, sought out a high performing acoustic lining that could absorb sound, form well around corners, and isolate and stop sound transferring into other areas of the exhibition. Working in collaboration with Autex, approximately 210m2 of Petronas coloured Autex CubeTM was applied throughout the exhibition.
The versatile nature of Cube allows for application in a curved format, which was perfect for the circular shaped cinema rooms. Petronas (a pitch black) was an especially good match - merging seamlessly and discreetly into the background of the exhibition. The acoustic atmosphere created was eerie yet mesmerising, providing the perfect environment for visitors to truly connect with history.