Jewel House, Tower of London, UK
Historic Royal Palaces are exploring the history of the Crown Jewels in an enhanced, elegant exhibition at the Tower of London. Opened on 26 May 2023, to mark the Coronation year, the exhibition explores the origins of some of the most precious objects for the first time and showcase how historic jewels have passed through different hands. The re-presentation was prepared over the last four years by Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity which cares for the historic Tower. This is the first major change to the display in over a decade.
Ralph Appelbaum acted as the lead designer and appointed Michael Grubb Studio to create the lighting design for this powerful project. The brief was to provide in-case lighting to the new showcases and upgrade the existing architectural lighting, expanding to include the specification of a new lighting control system to the Jewel House.
The space has been separated into two distinct areas; the western half of the Jewel House is home to the new exhibition, while the Treasury in the eastern half houses the Crown Jewels. This transformative re-presentation aims to create an impactful entry moment at the western half, highlighting significant objects to build anticipation for the Treasury.
To meet the brief, Michael Grubb Studio focused on the key design principles of flexibility, sustainability, and visitor experience. The new showcases contain various contents, so it was critical that the lighting was arranged in a way that grants the client flexibility to appropriately illuminate any items that are placed inside.
This was achieved by providing fittings inside the showcases in the Western half exhibition which are adjustable and have a variable beam, while the fittings are on three control channels per showcase, providing the maximum versatility within the case. The layout of the fittings within the case was coordinated with the location of the artefact labels, but not tailored too closely to the contents, again to provide flexibility and ensure the new showcases are future proofed.
Rachael Flint, Associate of Michael Grubb Studio, added: “It has been a huge pleasure to work with Historic Royal Palaces on this project. It’s wonderful to work with people who are so dedicated to their individual speciality and role. On a personal level, it was fantastic to be working with so many talented women who were leading the client and design teams and who made the project a joy to be a part of. We have worked with Ralph Appelbaum on several projects and really enjoy collaborating with them. This project was no exception; it was an honour to work on such a culturally significant project and bring the rich display to light.”
The thoughtful and carefully curated lighting design by Michael Grubb Studio will now be seen by the millions of visitors who come to the Tower every year to see the Crown Jewels.
Client: Historic Royal Palaces
Lead Designer: Ralph Appelbaum
Contractor: Factory Settings