Transforming knowledge into an exhibition

When you need to explain something, real things work better than text. Dinosaurs, for example, you’d want to see how big they are. An model of a building looks a lot finer than an animation. A movie about farming in 1900, just put the scythe next to it. Maybe it smells of a greasy polishing cloth. But if you’re designing an exhibition, your content has some requirements to fulfill.

Communicating with citizens

Government communication would like to see citizens “bumping into information” at city hall or on the street when they go to renew their passports. This kind of visitor has something better to do than read. Too bad that all government communications has a page as its basic form. And if you make those pages 3 meters high and put them in a room, they are still pages. Is there a better argument for avoiding information than a piece of text in a public space?

“Yikes, they want me to read.”

And my goodness, how fickle and easily distracted that visitor is! Everything is more important than the text at hand, the phone, other people, the queue number you got.

Those visitors must be seduced. Because you’re convinced he or she will find your message interesting (whether that’s true, we’ll talk about that later).

Playing with material

If the issue is spatial, for example, a new urban district, a factory or a dike, why not also make the solution spatial? The more senses the better, it seems. Spatial is truer than flat, rough is truer than smooth. Big is more real than small. Color, material, light, movement, sound. There is a whole arsenal of resources. Once you have objects, materials, color and light, you can start playing, and start making the visitor play.
Playing is fun.

The transformation

What experts and curators come up with, is endless text. It doesn’t work. But what part of the content can be transformed into a game? With what image, shape or color does the visitor get the importance of message? And what information do you label secondary because it is too complicated or abstract? That’s a job an exhibit builder can’t do for you. For that, you need an editor who has experience with exhibitions.


Here are a few examples of spatial “explanations” of urban issues. Of course, these projects were created with an entire team, from sketch to construction, maintenance and transportation to the next location. If you call me for something like this, I will do the transformation of the content and bring in a very good exhibition designer as well as an experienced builder for the execution. You didn’t think I would do this kind of thing alone, do you?

Adults playing in an exhibition. See, they are open to some information.

knowledge exhibition editorial content

Abstract concepts about sustainability can be portrayed with real things.

exhibition design editing content

Exhibition on sustainable communities. The ministry’s request was we want maps of the Netherlands, with the municipalities highlighted. My answer was an arrangement of icons, built from sustainable materials, depicting all the measures with real things. The exhibition is a nice design, but content editing is an preparation.


exhibition design editing content

An exhibition about the Sustainable City of 2040, imagined as a pavilion, with an exterior of architectural drawings and an interior with 5 images of the future and a voice over.


exhibition design content

Inside the pavilion, you are in a private space together with the future. Atelier Rijksbouwmeester / Ministry of VROM.


Accompanying the pavilion is a book, which interweaves 5 interviews with 5 plans by 5 architectural firms. So the exhibition design is preceded by attentive editing. The heavy content is available, but not in the exhibition, which takes care of the big picture only.


knowledge exhibition editorial content

Combine a mode of transportation with what you want to do and see your sustainable options. (Environmental Education Center Nieuwegein)


exhibition design content

All concepts translated into tangible objects.




knowledge exhibition editorial content

Climate as Opportunity, five lecterns on five topics, where you can dive into the matter.

knowledge exhibition editorial content

Top scientist explains to minister how ‘room for the river’ works.