A Century of Memories Exhibition
Belfast City Council
This was a good attempt at telling, in the year of its centenary, the story of Belfast’s City Hall (‘born in Venice’ as one panel says – the architect being partly inspired by the Salute). The story is told by the Hall itself, personifying itself as a character which, while seeming slightly disconcerting to begin with, actually quickly becomes acceptable and certainly saves on repetitions in text, with ‘I was..’ standing in each time, for example, for ‘The City Hall was…’.
More such economy in the text on the illuminated panels would have been welcomed since many of them presented rather formidable phalanxes of words. They were certainly interesting but required some tenacity to read through. There were also some infelicities of design, with text on glass over photographs not always easy to read. Clearly many visitors had enjoyed finding out the story, judging by the comments posted, despite these aspects.
However, notwithstanding these reservations, the judges were impressed with what the designers did with a fairly confined space in one of the Hall’s grand entrance lobbies. The panels forming a kind of ‘henge’ on either side of a screen set in the floor and related the history of the hall and the City, including some of the recent highlights like the visit by President Clinton, civil rights advances, and the funeral of George Best. The illustrations and artefacts were well chosen and presented.
For those in families or for children, who may not want to study every panel, the screen in the centre of the floor, with an accompanying ambient sound track, presented the viewer with newsreel and TV highlights of the City’s story as a whole. The judges felt that the exhibition was informative, entertaining and, on the whole, accessible and therefore worthy of a Commendation.
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