Belle Vue Studio

Exhibition Design

Client: Science and Media Museum

In the 1950’s, Belle Vue Studio was the one day-light studio in Bradford with no prejudice, welcoming everyone from all backgrounds and heritage. Belle Vue also offered a unique experience to all customers with their Victorian style photographic process and portraits. 

To showcase the history of the studio and story of Bradford’s multicultural heritage, we have created a typographic style inspired by the Kodak products sold in the Belle Vue shop and utilised the custom shop front signage and stained glass window. We were also influenced by local newspaper headlines & layout styles which highlighted the attitudes and topics of the era.

When Belle Vue Studio shut its doors in 1975 many of the photos glass plate negatives were destroyed but thankfully over 10,000 were saved. This permanent exhibition displays hundreds of Belle Vue’s original photos, each of which have their own story told by very people in the images. 

The original photography studio featured a whole wall of large day-light windows allowing them to use all natural lighting in their photos, this has been recreated in the exhibition with a wall of window like light boxes. We added graphic & text optical vinyls to utilise the light panels. We also re-created a customised stained glass piece, inspired by the original shop front window, which hangs in the centre of the exhibit, with bright colours that can be reflected with the light from the ‘day-light’ wall.

A photo opportunity area was created and styled in the victorian niche of the studio with a prop table / flowers (which often featured in the portraits), creating an interactive space for the museum-goers to take their own photos with.

To create a full 1950s experience we designed a range of patterns inspired by the clothing worn by customers in the Belle Vue portraits, one of these patterns was also used for a wallpapered feature wall in the exhibit. The colour scheme was influenced by the Belle Vue Studio shop space and 1950s Kodak items.  

In the technology section of this exhibit we have illustrated a graphic timeline showing the Victorian photography process used to take each and every photo in the studio.