V&A Epic Iran

The Exhibition as City with the Victoria and Albert Museum

Gort Scott designed an immersive scenography for the exhibition Epic Iran at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. The show explores 5,000 years of Iranian art, design and culture, bringing together over 300 objects from ancient, Islamic and contemporary Iran. It is the UK’s first major exhibition in 90 years to present an overarching narrative of Iran from 3000 BC to the present day. Epic Iran is organised by the V&A with the Iran Heritage Foundation in association with The Sarikhani Collection.

Early concept sketches
The Iranians Mourn Farud and Jarira, from the Shahnama (Book of Kings) of Shah Tahm

We responded to the challenge of designing the setting based on the concept Exhibition as City, influenced by the paintings of architecture and the city depicted in the Shahnama, the ‘Book of Kings’ (the national Epic of Iran).

A journey, between spaces of very different atmospheres, that relate to the objects displayed and the time, and place in history. Like wandering in a city, information is layered, choice and engagement are prioritised, and no two individual experiences will be quite the same.

Some of these rooms have solid walls, finely crafted, others are simply defined by sheets of fabric lit with projections. We have varied materials, colours and textures in order to affect the play of light, acoustics and touch.
Though all of the objects are shown in true unadulterated form, we have also invited the use of technology to help visitors visualise how some objects may have looked in their original form through collaboration with leading moving image studio Luke Halls.

The 10 sections of the exhibition are expressed as a series of individual architectural moments or open spaces that sit within the two halls of the Victoria & Albert Museum. The colour and form of these were inspired by the craft of Persian culture, including earth-built structures, though to the grand order of Persepolis and illuminated manuscripts depicting Iranian interiors within cities and gardens.

Working with Gort Scott on our Epic Iran exhibition has been an absolute joy. Their approach was holistic, starting with a concept rooted in the multiple spaces and atmospheres of a city and using every element of design to evoke a sense of unfolding throughout the galleries as the viewer encounters each new era.

Philippa Simpson, V&A Director of Design, Estate and Public Programme
Colour palette

We have considered the environmental sustainability of the exhibition – electing to use low carbon material such as timber and hempcrete that can be re-used and have looked to re-use as many materials from the V&A’s vaults as well as materials from previous exhibitions.

Further information

Data

Location
V&A Museum, Kensington
Project type
Public and civic
Status
Completed

Credits

Client
Victoria and Albert Museum
Gort Scott Team
Fiona Scott, Jay Gort, Alex Surguladze, Susie Hyden, Nicola Ibbotson, Pamela Snow, Fraser Leach-Smith, Andrew Tam, Glenn Strachan, Rohullah Kazemi
Collaborators
Polimekanos (graphics), Ben and Max Ringham (audio), Luke Halls Studio (AV), Steensen Varming (lighting)
Photography
Ed Reeve

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