Work-watching: Exhibition as a re-presentation of Existing Distillery Interiors

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper will present visual case studies of current Visitor Centre exhibits in Scottish Whisky Distilleries, to interrogate spaces in which work-watching becomes a leisure pursuit and previously private production facilities are made transparent. Here, global brand strategies merge with a local cast of characters to create unique experiential interiors.

These modern interventions layered over live working interiors, challenge the notion of what it means to ‘exhibit’, in contrast to a traditional exhibition as a stand-alone representation of an abstract theme or place, often remote to or after the event. Presenting the interior ‘as exhibition’, sets a discourse to discuss the model of existing permanent environments re-presented as exhibitions; constructed as a second-skin, not as change of use, but rather as a physical manifestation of a parallel activity.

Historic Scottish Whisky Distilleries, have been rebranded and re-presented to create unique visitor centres and brand homes. These existing environments, formed originally of working interiors and production facilities are re-appropriated and enhanced to form live exhibits, taking the visitor on a journey which combines authentic and new narratives. This formalisation and interpretation of what is already there, serves to educate, aid understanding, and entertain, through considered framing, curation and arrangement.

The success of these environments is part of a wider story of cultural tourism in Scotland, the growth of the experiential economy and an increased interest in the origin and provenance of the products we consume. This creation of a ‘second-use’, takes full advantage of the existing sites as emotive characterful places, ripe with narrative which can be reinforced and enhanced through performance and interpretation. These revived interiors serve to create a ‘living heritage’ (Miller,1994) not merely a museum of a past endeavour, but a synchronous exhibition of a still very live practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2023
EventThe Exhibition as Interior - The Modern Interiors Research Centre, Kingston University, London
Duration: 9 May 20239 May 2023


ConferenceThe Exhibition as Interior
Internet address

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Brand Interiors
  • Narrative Environments


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