University students bring fresh ideas to RAF Museum redevelopment

Published on: 22 June 2023

A new temporary exhibition on display at the Royal Air Force Museum Midlands, celebrates a collaboration between the Museum and students from the University of Wolverhampton’s School of Architecture and Built Environment.

The Museum worked with the School to set design challenge modules for students studying Architecture degrees to develop designs for a new collections centre and the redevelopment of an existing hangar, to incorporate a Learning Centre and exhibition. This project has offered students the opportunity to develop their architecture skills, with an impact on the Museum buildings being developed as part of the current Inspiring Everyone: RAF Museum Midlands Development Programme.

The exhibition showcases the students’ designs, alongside video interviews where students speak of their experiences of creating designs for the project. As part of the display, an interactive ‘have your say’ station encourages visitors to draw their own design and share ideas for the future of the Museum.

Based on a brief from the RAF Museum, students created designs for the redevelopment of an existing hangar, known as Hangar 1, that will house a new Learning Centre and innovative exhibition that will focus on the critical role of the RAF over the past 40 years. Students were given tours of the hangar to learn about the Museum’s vision for the future and to inspect its construction and condition. This information was used to develop designs to refurbish the building and make it more environmentally sustainable, helping the Museum to become a carbon net zero organisation.

Students also worked on designs for a new Collections Hub, that will enable the Museum to care for and open up the stored collections to the public. Students visited the site where the Collections Hub will be built and developed designs incorporating a range of construction methods.

Explore the students’ designs for the new Collections Hub and Hangar 1 Learning Centre and Exhibition, on display at the Museum until the autumn. Hear from the students themselves in video interviews where they talk about the design challenges they encountered, and their thoughts on the Museums’ ambitious redevelopment plans.

Maggie Appleton, RAF Museum CEO said:

‘We are delighted to be working with the fabulous students from the University of Wolverhampton to wrap their ideas into our new Collections Hub and Hangar 1 Learning Centre and Exhibition. The designs have brought fresh thinking and perspectives to our plans and colleagues at the University have been brilliant partners.’

Claire Robinson, RAF Museum Exhibitions and Interpretation Manager said:

‘Co-design and community engagement plays a key role in our redevelopment plans. We want visitors to have a say in the future of the RAF Museum Midlands, and we’re keen to hear which of the students’ designs they like best. The exhibition encourages visitors to share their thoughts on the designs and to let us know what activities they would like to see delivered in the new Learning Centre and exhibition.’

With a shared commitment to promote learning and collaboration, the RAF Museum and University of Wolverhampton have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). By working together in a spirit of friendship, the Museum and University will collaborate and encourage cooperation in relation to learning, training, research, engagement in student interventions associated with STEM and broader subject areas. The MOU was signed at the RAF Cosford Air Show by RAF Museum CEO Maggie Appleton and Samantha Walters, Chief Compliance Officer at the University of Wolverhampton.

Dr Paul Hampton, Head of the School of Architecture and Built Environment at the University, said:

‘We were delighted to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the RAF Museum.  We’ve worked closely with the Museum since 2015 and this formal signing is about continuing to strengthen our ties whilst at the same time highlighting our regional relationships for the benefits for our students. Work experience is crucial for students and this project has been an amazing experience for them from start to finish.’

Second year Architecture student, Andrew Leader, said:

‘Working with the RAF Museum on a real-life project was fantastic. The project was exciting and the interaction with members of the RAF Museum for feedback was great for both project and learning development. Being able to see it on display in the Museum really made me feel proud of the work I had produced. I felt like the small design decisions I made during the process were visible as I walked around the Museum.’

The Museum is looking for members to join their Access and Youth Panels to help co-create future projects. If you are interested in shaping the future of the RAF Museum Midlands, please email

Admission to the Museum and viewing the exhibition is free. Click here to pre-book your arrival time online.

The RAF Museum’s Inspiring Everyone: RAF Museum Midlands Development Programme has been made possible thanks to a generous investment from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Museum is developing plans further and ground works will commence in 2025.

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