The Human Touch: Making Art, Leaving Traces

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

How touch has shaped our existence

Exhibition Design, Graphic Design, Wayfinding, Film and Animation

A temporary exhibition at The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, which examines how the language of touch shapes and has shaped our existence, with all exhibition and graphic design by Nissen Richards Studio. In a separate commission, Nissen Richards Studio created a film to serve as both a trailer for and an encapsulation of the exhibition, exploring themes, filming key objects and adding additional content to link to the exhibition’s branding.

‘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. A final section brings together reflections on touch, both historic and contemporary.

The design uses texture, light and shadow to create an immersive and emotive journey for visitors to amplify the power of the objects and art on show and underline their narrative. A sense of tactility and craft is also part of the exhibition’s structural design, enabling it to be more narrative and integral. Exhibition structures are made up of freestanding curved walls, organic and fluid shapes which suggest cupped hands that hold the information and displays. The walls were designed to bear the signs of their maker and feature hand-applied plaster to the outside.Graphic info panels, meanwhile, feature a tactile and textured crinkled surface, created using thin, uncoated paper usually used for newspapers, which, when applied using paste, replicates the texture of skin. The film element of the exhibition was created by Nissen Richards Studio working with Director of Photography Pete Bateson, to explore the theme of touch and create a sense of tactility.


The Fitzwilliam Museum




Exhibition and Graphic Design: Nissen Richards Studio
Lighting design: Studio ZNA
Director of Photography for film: Pete Bateson

Photography: Gareth Gardner
Director of Photography for film: Pete Bateson