Interception, intelligence and invasion at the Bletchley Park Exhibition

PLB was called in to help when Bletchley Park wanted visitors to understand its true impact on one of the most important military operations of the twentieth century.

The principal centre of Allied codebreaking during the Second World War, Bletchley Park occupies a unique place in history. On D-Day, 6 June 1944, the largest amphibious landing in history was launched along the heavily fortified Normandy coastline. With intelligence gathered at Bletchley Park, it saw tens of thousands of Allied troops land, gaining a vital foothold in Fortress Europe.

For its D-Day exhibition, Bletchley Park needed to produce something extra special.

Bringing the story to life

As the lead contractor for design and build, we transformed the Grade II listed Teleprinter Hall and cinema, where close to one million intercepted messages arrived from secret listening posts across the UK.

We embarked on a major redevelopment of the premises, with an installation spanning two spaces, and a 22-metre-wide cinema screen, one of the largest of its kind in Europe. There’s an introductory gallery focusing on the lead up to D-Day, in addition to the specially commissioned immersive cinematic experience, which brings home the full impact of the intelligence at Bletchley Park.

Our works included:

  • Interpretive planning, to develop all the themes, messages and stories that Bletchley Park wanted to convey to visitors
  • Creative scheme design, to develop new ways of opening up exhibition spaces and improving visitor circulation
  • Graphic design and artwork, to bring together all the visual elements using references from historic archives
  • Lighting design, to create the right environment, both for the preservation of artefacts and to achieve the right ambiance for visitors within the main show
  • Visitor resonance, with the integration of specialist displays, graphics and AV hardware

Our design of the introductory gallery is purposefully minimal, to allow large numbers of visitors to gather before they view the breath-taking and thought-provoking main show. It also provides an overview of Bletchley Park’s role, introducing some of the key individuals behind the intelligence operation, before visitors go on to meet them in the film.

An immersive experience built around calm and clamour

We used precise, simple lines and bold colours to intertwine the various strands of intelligence that feed into all designs.

A graphic wall to the rear of the gallery creates a backdrop to the space and illustrates the layering of information collected from numerous sources, which is echoed in the fragmented film wall. A soothing soundscape creates a sense of calm before the events of D-Day unfold in the main show, placing the visitor on the shoreline. The soundscape also helps to mask any sound that could bleed from the main show.

Our original proposals included revolving central projection tables, which evolved through the design development phase, into a sophisticated multi-screen projection-mapped curved wall, which spans the entire length of the hall. Take a closer look at the tech in this article.

“The Teleprinter Building and the D-Day exhibition remain the jewel in the crown of our current offer.”

Iain Standen FRSA, CEO, Bletchley Park Trust

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