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Elmwood Projects installs Body Voyager Gallery at Edinburgh’s Surgeons’ Hall Museums

Fully converted from an IT facilities and office space, Elmwood Projects explains how it converted the Surgeons’ Hall Museums into an interactive, permanent exhibition.

Elmwood Projects were privileged to be appointed in February 2021 to deliver the unique new Body Voyager Gallery at Surgeons’ Hall Museums in Edinburgh – a fascinating permanent Exhibition packed with Interactives and immersive AV experiences to captivate visitors of all ages.

Body Voyager offers a truly thought-provoking look at both the past and the future role of technology in medicine.

The extensive scope of works for this brand new Exhibition was delivered via a holistic and integrated approach by Elmwood’s skilled team, including Setworks, display walls, plinths, AV housing, benches and display cases. The exhibition is located within a second-floor suite of rooms within the museum building which previously housed IT facilities and office and meeting rooms.

To accommodate a complete change of use within the space, a full strip out of the existing interior was required in advance of the installation works.

Subsequently, Elmwood were also responsible for supervising and coordinating the necessary Flooring, electrical, decoration, lighting and plumbing works to prepare the space for its brand-new displays, of which they have extensive previous experience in a range of both museum and heritage and commercial environments.

The AV hardware and software, graphics, display cases, object mounts, interactives and models for the project were delivered by specialist subcontractors engaged directly by the client. All contractors were supervised and coordinated by Elmwood throughout the Exhibition’s Fit out’s planning, Pre-construction and installation.

Surgeons’ Hall Museums was originally established as a medical teaching resource for students of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. Since moving to its current location on Nicolson Street in 1832, however, it has been open to all members of the public curious about the fascinating and often gruesome history of surgery.

The museum houses the largest and most historic collection of surgical artefacts in the world from anatomical specimens and models to surgical instruments and equipment, some dating back to 1699. The museum as a whole explores the development of all technology and advances in medicine – from anaesthetics through histology (or microanatomy), X-rays and photographs to radiology and keyhole surgery.

Surgeons Hall Museums have undergone a major Heritage Lottery Funded redevelopment in recent years and reopened in 2015, with Body Voyager being the most recent new addition to its offering.

Body Voyager consists of four zones across two rooms which have been combined into one; an Introduction, The Head, The Torso and Urology & Limbs. Each zone explores how robotics has been introduced into certain surgical procedures in the past, as well as charting the development of robotic equipment. The design of the new galleries, by David Campbell Design Consultants, incorporates a high level of Interactive computer technology (ICT), working surgical instruments, human specimens and AV presentations to create an immersive and directly engaging experience.

One of the most impressive installations of the Body Voyager Exhibition is the interactive Robotic Surgery Station located in in Zone 3 – Torso.

This is an augmented reality installation, composed of complex integrating elements, and relies on the correct alignment and inter-relation of markers on the curved rear display wall and the Station’s moveable elements. As a result, the precision fabrication of the rear wall was a crucial factor for the Station’s success, and both the Elmwood team, the specialist Interactive subcontractor and the Client were delighted with the finished result. Close communication with the AV Hardware and Interactives contractors was also key to achieving a seamless finish between the Station’s four lecterns and supporting plinth and the interactives and hardware items.

In developing their concepts for the Body Voyager Exhibition, Surgeons’ Hall consulted with several cutting-edge surgical equipment producers including Intuitive Surgical Inc, Freehand Surgical and B. Braun to showcase some of the amazing equipment now being routinely used by surgeons.

Located within a Grade I Listed building with a venerated history, the planning and installation of the Body Voyager Exhibition Fit out required careful protection of the building fabric and access route by the Fit Out team, accounting for width restrictions to doorways and corridors. It was also a priority to separate on-site works from members of the public while other areas of the building were fully open to visitors. Body Voyager opened to the public in September 2021.

Project Team

Exhibition Fit Out Contractor – Elmwood Projects
Exhibition Designer – David Campbell Design Consultants