To mark the opening of their new display, At Home With Music, the Horniman asked us to film a music recital. The instrument was a beautiful 1772 Kirckman harpsichord which has been restored into playing condition specifically for this new display.
This was a live event at the opening of the new display and the harpsichord is displayed fairly flat against a wall along a narrow corridor between stunning display cases. There was a challenge then to get a range of footage in a dark, tight and busy environment that would also best respect the music and occasion. To do this we arrived early to insert a camera in overhead ceiling vent and employed a gopro which sat almost directly on the keyboard giving us a bird’s eye and an ant’s eye view of the proceedings.
The pieces we recorded were the two new compositions that had won a competition run by the Horniman to mark the opening of the new exhibition and restoration of the harpsichord. They were wonderfully played by Jane Chapman, who was very accommodating to our technical discussions, and really brought the new display to life with her performances.
The Sprawl by Adam W. Stafford
Vine by Tim Watts
The exhibition is a permanent new display, curated by Mimi Waitzman and is a collection of keyboard instruments from the V&A and Horniman collections. Unsurprisingly it can be found in the museum’s music gallery and is very inviting, the only problem is trying not to touch the very welcoming keyboards and stunning pieces on open display.
Today the Horniman has launched their new overview video which was lovingly crafted by acapmedia.
The Horniman Museum is a “Gem”, a “Hidden Treasure”, a “Local Curiosity” but it is also a world class museum with disparate collections. Our challenge was to capture the feeling of this wonderfully diverse organisation, covering all the collections, galleries, activities and never forgetting the stunning gardens into a short concise video that would appeal to past and regular visitors but also encourage those who hadn’t visited before to make their way down to Forest Hill in South London (really rather easy thanks to the overland and many direct trains from London Bridge and Victoria) to see it all for themselves.
It took a little while to arrange time to meet with all the curators and staff members as everyone was always very busy but when we did manage to pin anyone down they were very generous with their time and remarkably enthusiastic to share their knowledge. So enthusiastic we sometime felt rude reminding everyone that their gallery or section could only be featured for a very short time. We learnt a great deal about fossils, Ethiopian instruments, coral reefs and African puppets that could never fit into this video so you will just have to pop along yourself to find out more.
Enthusiasm was a recurring “problem” as members of the public we interviewed had so much to say about the museum: 80year olds telling us about their visits there as children, annual visits from Scotland, Jamaica, Thailand and…Ilford, people meeting old friends and new friends. Visitors really seem to take the museum to heart and want to share everything. As one of our interviewees says in the film, “Everything you see is eye opening.” but not everything edits down well into a short video so we have had to leave out some lovely moments.
As well as having to heavily edit our interviews we also had to be ruthless in our choice of objects to show in the video. We could never have shown everything and, of course, we wanted to leave some surprises. The Horniman’s Collections are so exciting we were very strict with ourselves in each gallery not to film everything but to pick out some highlights and the curators were very helpful in suggesting some of their favourites. Additionally the museum is a very dynamic place and doesn’t stand still so we couldn’t film the temporary gallery that changes regularly, we couldn’t film some favourite objects because they were on loan to other museums and, as regular visitors know, the gardens have been beautifully regenerated. The film stands still but the museum never does so we very much stuck to a theme of capturing a flavour of the museum because a snap shot is impossible and perhaps that message is shared by including some archive photos that show the growth and development of the museum.
Something that many of the visitors commented on was how much the museum has changed over the years. We hope the video celebrates and shows the growth of the museum and its audiences over the years.
We were very happy as well to work with Ceridwen Smith, talented actress and resident of Forest Hill who lends her voice to the film and brings the narrative of the museum to life. Her enthusiasm for the museum was clear when we recorded and I think it shines through in the video. She is the first person to thank in our list of thanks that also include, Adrian Murphy and Victoria Brightman from the Horniman Museum as well as all the staff and visitors who shared their stories with us from families through storytellers to curators and directors, the video would not have been what it is without all your help.
You can view the video here and don’t forget to like and share with your friends: