Historic Hendon was a Heritage Lottery Funded project which aimed to produce a series of co-curated and co-designed objects that tell the story of Hendon’s unique airfield heritage. We developed a co-curation process that involved RAF Museum staff, volunteers, visitors, veterans and local community groups working together to discover and identify key themes that help tell the local story of the RAF in Hendon.
Through a series of interactive and creative workshops, the local community collectively identified themes that they felt best told the Hendon story. Participants later developed these themes into collaged storyboards combining historical narratives with personal memories. The final part of the process involved co-designing and producing a group of objects to tell these identified Historic Hendon stories. These unique and memorable objects are now dotted across the RAF Museum site to further engage visitors in its history.
A pair of concrete benches were installed around the green, cast in the form of furniture pieces previously manufactured on the site. Each bench features imagery and text to honour themes of ‘women at work’ and ‘skill transfers’ that were identified during the co-curation process.
Referencing the airfield’s role as an event space for huge air shows, three mobile tannoys were installed. Whenever someone walks past, these activate to play a soundscape of recorded memories of local people.
Claude’s Café at the Museum now boasts tables with engraved ash table tops celebrating some of the stories identified in the co-curation process, such as the site’s role as host of the world’s first long-distance air race in 1910. Menu holders on top of each table are shaped like the planes that starred in these events, with pilots’ portraits etched into the timber surface. The café also gained china tea sets illustrating stories about the site’s flying displays. Like the tables, these are designed for café visitors, and offer them an interactive way to learn about stories from the past while enjoying afternoon tea.
Finally, to celebrate the fact that Hendon was the site of the first parachute descent from a powered aircraft, giant parachute beanbags and rugs allow people to relax and recharge on the Museum green.
RAF Museum, Hendon
RAF Museum, Hendon, London