Over 820,000 people had visited Gallipoli: The scale of our war as of July, since opening in April 2015. Given that it’s open until 2019, that number is quite likely to get even more staggering. Heaps has already been said about what makes it special, but I’d like to add a few observations of my own – mostly about the floor vinyl.
The massive people are undoubtedly stunning like pretty much everything produced by Weta Workshop – they give me chills and are jaw-droppingly impressive in their detail. But my favourite part of the exhibition is something different, namely the winding story told in vinyl on the floor throughout the exhibition space.
I think it’s a very effective interpretive tool and a great example of how timelines can actually be made to look cool – who would have guessed! The clusters of crosses are visually arresting and provide a sense of connection to the losses suffered throughout the campaign that I think words on their own just can’t match.
Overall, there are a lot of words in the exhibition, but somehow it doesn’t feel that way. I think that’s because the written content is delivered in a variety of formats – from standard object labels, to big wall panels, to text on touch screens, to vinyl on the floor.
(And as a side note: it was actually really heartening to see a wee bubble in the vinyl here and there. I worked on an exhibition last year where we had to put down vinyl that looked like floorboards, so I can 1,000% sympathise with how bloody hard their install must have been.)
Plus, the voice that they’ve gone for in some of the labels/panels – first person point-of-view, conversational, snappy, unafraid of slang – is really engaging. Some of the content reads more like fiction, even though it’s completely factual, and in my opinion that’s what makes it work. It adds a massive amount of heart to the experience, because you really feel like you’re amongst those who served at Gallipoli, and that they’re telling your their (often completely horrific and/or heartbreaking) stories.
I don’t actually have many photos from the exhibition at all – a sure sign that I was pretty into the whole thing – so I’ve just included one here to illustrate a little bit of what I’ve talked about above.
I’m hoping to get back to Wellington in December, where a visit to Te Papa is always part of the plan, so maybe I’ll get some extras then. More likely, I’ll forget I even have a phone for a while and, instead, try to read all the things I didn’t manage to get around to on my last visit.