Saturday, 24 January 2009

DSI - National Portrait Gallery Shop : first view

A short list about the first view of National Portrait Gallery - both the exhibition and the shop. Here we start from the exhibition. They arrange the whole display through time-line - from the old times to modern age. The exhibition spaces and the form of portrait varies through different period of time - modern space with photographic portrait in modern age and classic decoration matches the traditional sophisticated oil painting portrait. It's quite interesting to see how format of art changes through time and how different concept of portrait emerges. The way they make these portrait not just one after another "painting" is very nice - they bundle these portrait with history carefully. You can regard it as a special point of view to review history. They have great database in the gallery which visitors could enter without a problem, and the digitalization of their collection gives more potential to view these pieces. One thing to mention, the modern age exhibition on the ground floor seems to be short-term display, maybe this reflects the fast-changing essence of "modern" and present continuous tense "history."

Let's move on to the shop, bookshop and cafe. Cafe and bookshop located on the basement and the grow together in a very elegant way. The best thing of the basement is both the bookshop and cafe fit the building very well, you can see the conversation between old and new structure of the space. Yet the gallery shop on the ground floor failed to do that - it's just a boring space. The stock lots of books in the shop - I think far more than ordinary museum shop. But this time I did not note too much about this book shop, I'll do it next time.

This is the nice bookshop space, you can see there's some cafe seats inside the bookshop.

And this is the boring gallery shop.

Some quick notes about the products in the shop. I classify the products into four different categories :

。Logo Type : the most boring one, some cheap stuff like pencil or mug printing their logo. (the name or the illustration of gallery facade)

。Gallery-Related:I think they produced there products which fits the theme of gallery better. Postcard and poster exhibit the most in this category. There are also some scarf of tie printing some portrait. I think this category has a lot of potential to explore.

。Special Collection Products:the current special collection is Annie Leibovitz and they put some products relate to this exhibition - her portfolio, special designed t-shirt or scarf. Products in this category are more sophisticated with higher price and better quality, but there still lack a sense of innovation. For example, the t-shirt is just a white t-shirt printing a illustration as a camera hanging on the neck, which appears in many fashion brands already. ( if not mistaken, I think Marten Margiela did the first piece )

。Others:some other products from science toy to jewelry. I don't think these products fit the gallery well, but maybe they sell well, we'll see.

Overall the shop is not so interesting as I thought. The only thing catch my eye is this machine show above : you can select the portrait you like in the gallery and print the poster on demand. Since they have great digitalized database there's a lot of potential to play with the system in the shop. I think this print-on-demand or produce-on-demand shopping can give a novel and interesting museum experience.

Next post will focus on how their website describe and sell their products.

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