‘Radical Curiosity: In the Orbit of Buckminster Fuller’ Exhibition

‘Radical Curiosity: In the Orbit of Buckminster Fuller’ is the ArtScience Museum’s (ASM) celebration of Richard Buckminster ‘Bucky’ Fuller’s astonishing legacy of contributions to art, architecture, design, engineering, metaphysics, mathematics and education. The exhibition runs from January to July 2022.

To ensure an impactful visitor experience, ASM chose to work closely with Pico on the exhibition’s creative conceptualisation, overall brand identity, space planning and design. The Pico team was also responsible for the exhibition’s actual construction.

exhibition

Insight

The exhibition was curated around Bucky’s key inventions, influences and legacy, with the key target audience being school and university groups, artists, architects, designers, and ‘followers’ of Bucky.

A challenge was posed by the circular shape of the exhibition space, leading the team to rethink the visitor experience – and specifically how to leverage the unique architectural layout to create a compelling journey through Bucky’s life and work. The four ‘pillars’ of the experience comprised:

  • The activated archives: A vast amount of material, beginning with the Dymaxion Chronofile (Bucky’s life that he documented on paper). The team was to activate the archives for a visitor experience that would reflect Bucky’s playful, charismatic character.

  • Environmental activism: To include recycled materials as part of the build and design motif. Recycled parts were to also present their former function to visitors.

  • A lightness of being: Design elements and overall construction would reflect a certain ‘lightness’, as Bucky’s work focused on mobility and lightweight structures.

  • Nostalgic Futures: The graphic design would be bold and engaging, and provide a connection between different sections.


Though the exhibition commenced when COVID-19 restrictions were relaxed, the team was required to incorporate measures such as safe distancing into visitor journey.

Solution

Visitors experienced the exhibition by moving clockwise along the oculus, with different colour themes creating zones for each chapter. The colour palette was inspired by Bucky’s work and various sources related to him, and struck a balance between modern hues and vintage aesthetics. Selected colours were juxtaposed to create a contrasting yet complementary visual for the space.

The journey began with an introduction to Bucky, with the space adorned with simple two-dimensional triangle – a shape that was the starting point to many of Fuller’s inventions. The exhibition brought visitors to explore facets of Fuller’s life and the breakthroughs made. For example, Chapter 2 explores how nature was incorporated into sustainable design, while Chapter 3 features a 8m metal dome – a shape invented by Bucky.

Interactive elements ensured that visitors learned through engagement with the displays. Acrylic panels could be moved to reveal the natural influences on Bucky’s ideas; in an explore-and-play zone, visitors of all ages could build their own mini-domes and other structures; in another chapter, visitors took on the duties of an engineer helping to ‘build’ Earth. In a final chapter, a triangular tunnel led visitors through Bucky’s own journey of imparting knowledge and leaving a legacy.

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