Nissen Richards Studio Design – The Human Touch

‘The Human Touch: Making Art, Leaving Traces’ is a new exhibition at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, with all exhibition and graphic design by leading cultural sector specialists Nissen Richards Studio, working closely with the museum’s curators. The exhibition, which examines how the language of touch shapes and has shaped our existence, will run until August 1, 2021. In a separate commission, Nissen Richards Studio created a film to serve as both a trailer for and an introduction to the exhibition, exploring themes, filming key objects and adding additional content to link with the branding of the exhibition.

‘The Human Touch: Making Art, Leaving Traces’ draws on works of art spanning four thousand years from across the globe and explores the fundamental role of touch in human experience. The exhibition’s scope ranges from anatomy and the skin to the relationship between the brain, hand and creativity. It also looks at touch in relation to desire and possession, politics and ideology, reverence and iconoclasm. The final section brings together a series of reflections on touch, both historic and contemporary.

Objects within the exhibition range from ancient Egyptian limestone sculpture to medieval manuscripts and panel paintings – and from devotional and spiritual objects to love tokens and faith rings from all over the world. Drawings, paintings, prints and sculptures by Raphael, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Carracci, Hogarth, Turner, Rodin, Degas, and Kollwitz are re-analysed and seen alongside work by contemporary artists such as Judy Chicago, Frank Auerbach, Richard Long, the Chapman Brothers, Richard Rawlins, Donald Rodney and others.

The design of the exhibition uses texture, light and shadow to create an immersive and emotive journey for visitors that amplifies the power of the objects and art on show and underlines their narrative. A sense of tactility and craft formed part of the exhibition’s structural design for it to be more narrative and integral. There is a strong relationship between the graphics and the 3D forms to help achieve a full sensory and immersive journey for the visitor and underline links with the prints and gestures of the artists whose works are on show.

David Evans, Exhibitions Manager at the Fitzwilliam Museum added, ‘We are radically happy at the experience of working with Nissen Richards Studio on The Human Touch. The project has grown and evolved in the extra planning time allowed by the national lockdown. This focused the exhibition design and enabled us to look more closely than ever at the art works on show. The gallery space now captures our sense of touch through all the senses. The film accompanying the exhibition was our opportunity to engage emotionally with the exhibition content in ways we hadn’t managed before, enjoying the art works in forensic detail.’

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About Phoebe Train

Phoebe is a Marketing and Events Executive, who joined the BCFA as an English graduate in 2021. Working closely with designers and BCFA members, Phoebe has published an array of content for Design Insider.
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