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Our journey into the future... begins in the past

From lifting antiques from a Genovan vault to making food replicas from wax, the aka team will go to any length to put on a good exhibition or event.

“Working in such an iconic place certainly makes you feel part of something much bigger… a part of history,” says aka’s Andrew, who joined the museum from art college, quickly becoming its head of design.

The role saw him join at a seminal time in the museum’s history and help launch the Sainsbury Wing, deliver several Renaissance exhibitions and form the first sponsorship team. It was a job that went way beyond graphic delivery, to include planning, delivering and funding complex and costly gallery refurbs and exhibitions involving many experts and teams.

“Creating a sponsorship team helped bring more structure and strategy to sponsorship and attract the funding needed to share some of the world’s best-loved works.”

The Royal Academy is a place where art is made, exhibited and debated, attracting 20,000 visitors to its annual summer exhibition alone. Our next challenge was to plan, deliver and raise funds for Academy events, including shows on Giacometti and Clementi. One exhibition in particular springs to mind.

“George Ortiz was one of the world’s greatest collectors of ancient art, with thousands of beautiful artefacts up to 4,000 years old. Having agreed to a temporary exhibition, we needed pre-exhibition photos of his collection in Geneva - but not everything went to plan! Our camera equipment didn’t board the plane so we had to reschedule the shoot, but it was worth the wait. Lifting the exquisite pieces from the vaults under his chateau was an extraordinary feeling – he really was a genius for picking out great works.”
“Everything you do at the palaces needs the Queen’s final approval,” says aka’s director, who has designed for Hampton Court, Kensington Palace and Banqueting House.

The publicity and exhibitions work included a royal wedding dress retrospective and re-enactment of an 18th century King’s feast replete with realistic replicas of food.

“Shooting the highly reflective antique silverware was challenging, and we had to think way beyond textbook techniques. But capturing the exact mood and spirit of a banquet was vital to attracting visitors, enhancing their experience and, of course, keeping the monarchy sweet!”

What do a portable dog bowl, lightweight bicycle and Dyson bladeless fan have in common? Patents aside, they all featured in Inventing the 21st Century, one of our many blockbuster shows for the British Library.

Our biggest British Library exhibition, Breaking the Rules, took up half an acre of the library’s 112,000 sq metre floor space, and tells the story of Europe’s creative revolution of the 20th century as it ripped up the rule books for art, literature and design, changing society for good. Involving far more than graphic delivery, the 2D and 3D exhibition took six months to design, build and install and explored new ways to impart information and attract and engage multilanguage crowds.

Let’s continue the story.

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