The Corning Museum of Glass selected Harry Allen Design to create their 2013 feature exhibition, Life on a String: 35 Centuries of the Glass Bead. Working closely with the curatorial staff, Harry and his team crafted an entertaining and educational show. The radial layout responds to the round room of the Gunnar Birkerts designed Museum building. The objects on display are housed in tall, fully-saturated cases, designed to highlight the colorful beads, accommodate the wide variety of material on display, and bring the objects on display up to eye level.|
Harry enlisted longtime collaborator Stefan Hengst to develop a graphic identity for the show. The emphasis
was on the beads themselves which provide great visual interest. Beads form the logo and are applied as patterns
on the wall. The most striking innovation in the graphic
treatment is the complete digital nature of the application. Stefan started a wallpaper company last year and most of the graphics in this show, from the entry logo to the object descriptions, are applied seamlessly as wallpaper.
To engage the viewer, the designers developed three
interactive areas in the exhibition. The Timeline, which places important beads in historical context, is cross
referenced to a map on the opposite wall by a web of strings that crisscross overhead; beads are thus placed in geographical context as well. A small round theater at the heart of the exhibit features a video as well as a display of beadmaking tools. The "Wearing Beads" Gallery combines images of beads being worn in various cultures with images of beaded garments mounted on mirrors. Viewing themselves in the mirrors, visitors can imagine themselves in beaded flapper dresses and Samburu necklaces.