SVM Consulting Engineers
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Robots at the Science Museum: designing a flexible new exhibition

10th March 2017

SVM Consulting Engineers have recently completed a remarkably nimble design for the Science Museum’s latest exhibition; ‘Robots’. Opening to great acclaim on 8 February, ‘Robots’ will show for 7-months before departing on tour around the UK and internationally. Robots has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, with a £100,000 grant from the Collecting Cultures programme.

Housed within the Science Museum’s 800m² temporary exhibition gallery, ‘Robots’ is the latest in the Museum’s series of ambitious, blockbuster exhibitions.  The collection of over 100 robots is displayed across five distinct zones all accommodated within the one gallery.  Many of the robots on display are working models whilst others, such as a sixteenth century mechanical monk, are carefully protected in closed cases. By its very nature the installation is made up of numerous and complex services encompassing sophisticated lighting, audio-visual and IT; many of which are required to interact seamlessly with each other.

Having undertaken the shell-&-core designs for this gallery some 10-years ago (and a number of temporary touring exhibitions in the years since), we were delighted to be appointed to develop the electrical scheme for ‘Robots’. Our responsibilities included the provision of employer’s requirements specifications covering the power, data, security, fire alarms, emergency lighting and AV cabling, as well as the ongoing technical reviews and monitoring of the installations on site.

Temporary exhibitions in this gallery change regularly, and once ‘Robots’ closes in London it will embark on a five year UK and international tour. For this reason, the exhibition has been designed on a modular basis employing a ‘plug and play’ philosophy to assist rapid installation and de-installation during the touring periods.  To ensure the equipment can be moved safely and cables can be connected and disconnected easily by museum teams our designs include features such as power distribution equipment fitted into flight cases, and plug-in wiring and communication systems.

Paul Rushmer, Director at SVM, said “It has been a pleasure to develop the designs that will enable this high-profile exhibition to wow the Museum’s visitors, before departing on its global tour. Our design team gave careful consideration to the exhibit’s life-cycle, ensuring the positive experience of the visitors translates as simply as possible across the many future host locations.”



About the Science Museum

As the home of human ingenuity, the Science Museum’s world-class collection forms an enduring record of scientific, technological and medical achievements from across the globe. Welcoming over three million visitors a year, the Museum aims to make sense of the science that shapes our lives, inspiring visitors with iconic objects, award-winning exhibitions and incredible stories of scientific achievement. More information can be found at

About SVM’s expertise in designing for museums

SVM was founded in 1956, and a CIBSE Building Performance Consultancy of the Year finalist.  The company is one of the UK’s leading providers of sophisticated and sympathetic building services design schemes for the museum and galleries sector.  The Natural History Museum, The Tate, V&A, Museum of London and the Science Museum (to name just a few) are amongst SVM’s ongoing client base.

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