Reconstructing Lives: Installing the exhibition

The beginning of March was busy for us in the Science section as we installed the Reconstructing Lives exhibition, which opened at the National War Museum on 9 March. Although the exhibition is a small one, there is still a lot of hard work that goes into creating it.

Over the past few months the objects were conserved and photographed, the label text was researched, written and revised and the images which bring the stories of the objects to life had to be sourced and printed. Our loans department have also been busy organising the borrowing of five legs and two hands for the display.

The week of exhibition installation is normally a flurry of activity so I thought I would share some of the photos I took over the course of the installation. I should also mention that the gallery technicians had already been beavering away for a week, preparing the gallery for installation and mounting the display panels but I wasn’t around to take photos of their input!

Foyer case
The Foyer case with the cosmetic hand coverings on display. My personal favourite in this case is the hand on the second left with the zip up the forearm. The realism of the silicone hands can be quite unsettling!
Case in the gallery
The first objects going into the case, with Chris Moon’s running blade in the foreground and the WW2 aluminium arm in the background.
The strapping attached to the prosthetic legs provided a real challenge for the mount maker, Richard West. When you visit the exhibition do take a moment to admire the skill and craftsmanship that went into creating the mounts – they are a work of wonder!
Curator Tacye Phillipson and Russell Eggleton, the exhibition designer, suspend the strapping of the leg using stainless steel wires attached to the top of the case.
All installed! Tacye and Russell look on as Richard gives the limb mounts a final check over.
Iron hand on loan from the British Museum
Thursday was perhaps our busiest day of the week. Poor Tacye’s day began at the ungodly hour of 06:40 with an interview on the BBC Radio Scotland breakfast programme. The final loan object pictured here in its travelling case arrived from the British Museum and we had the exhibition press view.
Inspecting the iron hand
Tacye and Elena Jones from the British Museum carry out the condition check on the hand before it is locked into the case for the duration of the exhibition.
Press view
Here’s Tacye being interviewed by Pauline McLean for a feature on the BBC ‘Reporting Scotland’ news programme.
Press view
Conservator Darren Cox prepares to do a piece to camera on his contribution to the exhibition. Although this didn’t appear on the TV news bulletin, the audio recording featured on the BBC Radio Scotland ‘News Drive’ programme later that evening.
Press view
Seen on a photographer’s camera screen is a great shot of Tacye viewed through the exhibition case with a late-20th century prosthetic arm in the foreground.
Press view
The image of Tacye holding the i-limb ultra was the favoured photograph in the press coverage for the exhibition that appeared the next day. Here she is taking directions from a bank of photographers with the assistance of Kirsty Tough from the Marketing and Communications department.
Reconstructing Lives
Opening Day! Here we have some of the first visitors to the exhibition taking a closer look at the fantastic photographs which cover the walls of the gallery space.
Reconstructing Lives
The layout of the exhibition, designed by Jan Dawson uses a combination of text and image to illustrate the development of prosthetic limbs and to show the objects on display in use.
Watching the exhibition video
Part of the exhibition is an interview with Chris Moon, MBE. He was blown up by a landmine in 1995, losing his lower leg and right arm. This short film features his personal story and how he and others have adjusted to using prosthetic limbs.
Reconstructing Lives visitor comments
The comments book – it’s great to read visitor responses to an exhibition. Here are the first two comments from a couple of Canadian visitors.
Reconstructing Lives
The finished exhibition.

So there we have a behind the scenes glimpse of the exhibition installation.

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