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Client
CSMVS (Former The Prince of Wales Museum)

Brand
Three Dimensions of Divinity Exhibition
Industry
Art & Culture
Museum
Heritage
Region
India
Key Services
Exhibition Experience
Naming
Visual Identity
Narrative
Service Design
Environment Communication



Revealing new dimensions of museum experiences.

The CSMVS Mumbai, formerly Prince of Wales, is considered to be one of the top 3 museums in India. In a phase of reinvention spanning a decade, CSMVS is on its way to becoming a groundbreaking cultural centre in the country.

To launch their Centenary Celebrations in January of 2022, we were commissioned to design an exhibition for a recently bequeathed Thanjavur collection. We collaborated with their curatorial and conservation team to craft a unique experience that would leverage phygital storytelling to build an immersive journey for every visitor. A first for the museum and ourselves.







Appreciating Every Facet

We worked closely with the conservation and curation teams to
gain a deeper understanding of the art forms' history, cultural significance and techniques. Thanjavur, a temple town, is considered the cultural cradle of South India, having nurtured Architecture, Performing Arts and Painting Traditions for over 2000 years. Entrenched deeply in the cultural consciousness of the region, it is relatively unknown in other parts of the country. 

We understood the art form’s journey from prominence to obscurity and back, over its 400 year evolution. As well as understanding how it fits within the storied history and cultural milieu of the city itself.


We realised that this story was astonishingly complex. A complexity compounded with the weaving of the museum’s role as the guardian of its hallowed past. We delved deep into how collections are bequeathed to Museums, how they ensure the careful conservation and maintenance of these rare pieces. We wanted to pay homage to its roots but also bring forth the confluence of the art form, the museum and its patron. To unfold a journey of discovery and enchantment that would continue long after the exhibition is seen and felt.







Refining the sketch

Our experience creation began with the realisation that any exhibition is a culmination of various perspectives, the  most important being the creator and the viewer or visitor. And how the collection, its story and the museum’s efforts are perceived, imbibed and educate the latter. A confluence of numerous dimensions.

Ironically, when taking inspiration from this particular art form, what stood out to us is how the godlike subjects are brought to life in three dimensional relief through the layering of rich materials. We played with these core ideas of Dimensionality and the Divine, weaving together the aspects that brought alive the exhibition, from the collector, to the collection’s curation and conservation. Finally allowing us to craft ‘Three Dimensions of Divinity - Thanjavur Art Revealed’. A name that built intrigue and authenticity, becoming a unique idea that is cohesively expressed in myriad ways, physical and digital throughout the space.





The Final Piece

Tanjore paintings mainly portray Hindu deities. The style involves rich colours and is renowned for its inlay work with glass beads, semi-precious stones and gold foil. The layering of these elements is what creates the beautiful three dimensionality that brings forth subjects into sharp relief.

To translate this beauty and heritage of the art form to visitors,the exhibition experience has been crafted as thoughtful interventions that will allow visitors to appreciate its craft, creation process, heritage and cultural significance.






A multilingual logo, an ode to the past and practicality

We crafted a dynamic logotype based upon the ‘Layering of Thanjavur Paintings.’ A multi-dimensional rendition that consists of 7 Latin variations. Complimented by Devanagari and Tamil versions. Each is handcrafted and brought alive through animated sequences.









Each is handcrafted and brought alive through animated sequences.

Creating a sense of movement whether in its static or motion avatars. THREE acts as the main device that playfully discloses the exhibition name in multiple ways, embodying the exhibition's essence with a fascinating reveal.






The bi-scriptual decisions were led by 2 factors. First,  the CSMVS caters to an audience that uses the Devanagari script as their primary form of communication, whether in Hindi or Marathi. 

Second, while observing the conservation process, we discovered that the Tamil script is subtly integrated into the paintings. It appears in old Tamil newspapers that cover the back panelling. The script thus pays homage to the culture that birthed the art form.





A riot of colours

Our 16 colour palette drew inspiration from the paintings distinctive and beautiful riot of colours. To create an entire spectrum from primary to tertiary ensuring compliment and contrast. A vivid range of colours, carefully selected to allow the art to remain the highlight while creating an atmosphere within the gallery and beyond that transforms the visitor into a unique world of its own. Truthful, evocative and contemporary.






Three times the charm

The logo idea is the base in constructing the entire design system. From a unique 3 column and a diagonal baseline grid, fashioning every design expression. 




Crafting a singular journey

The curation team had divided the exhibition into 3 sections. The entrance is dedicated to the collector. Followed by  three rooms, each interestingly charting the journey of the art form’s rise, fall and subsequent revival. And ending with the Museums role as conservators and rightful guardians.

We patterned the user journey by creating a unique narrative based on THREE - Collector, Collection and Conservation.








Collector

The opening section pays homage to the collectors endeavour to collect and preserve the art form for over 30 years. He accrued regional art pieces that either inspired or were inspired by Thanjavur art. Offering a unique glimpse into the shared heritage of South Indian art.









Collection

Collection, focused on the artforms evolution through 47 paintings, broken into three sections. Divine Inspiration contained imagery and avatars of Gods and Goddesses.

Epics Retold featured paintings that relate to stories and characters from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Earthly Abode showcased a range of subjects, primarily portraits of Kings, Poets and Saints that played vital roles in Thanjavur art’s history, to the art form’s modern evolutions.



Supergraphics, heralded the start of a new chapter in the journey,  intelligently weaving the angles of walls. To compliment the paintings, adding a new dimension to bridge tradition with modernity.




The wall leading into the Collection featured an immersive installation that uncovers the art form’s unique layered process. Each step in the creation of a Thanjavur painting was laid bare, contextualising traditional techniques with modern practices. Providing visitors with a deeper appreciation for the pieces.


Conservation

Playing ironically with the concept of ‘what goes unseen’ visitors see our logo’s THREE on the front of the accordion wall. On the reverse, as they exit, is an homage to the conservation efforts that made Three Dimensions of Divinity possible.

Their exceptional work was impossible to capture via a singular medium. A video showcasing their process leads visitors into an infographic that contextualises the intricacies of the steps taken into a single visual. Finally, detailed animations highlight the remarkable restoration to canvas, paint and frame for three paintings where extensive damage seemed to simply melt away and reveal the painting in its original glory.






Historic grandeur reimagined

To create a cohesive journey, we recaptured the grandeur of Tanjore temples by integrating larger than life interventions in the  glorious museum architecture.

11 foot translucent scrolls greet visitors in the corridors. The natural play of light and wind, add its own dimension of ethereal beauty.










COVID protocols are made playful and ownable as THREE inspired floor stickers, stepping up the mundane. 








Providing context is an imperative part of art appreciation. We created an interactive medium to narrate the art form’s rich history through phygital storytelling. A combination of a ‘Making of’ video and a thoughtfully designed timeline, translates Thanjavur’s story and creation process on a single wall.














Of New Discovery

The exhibition ran for 6 months between January and June of 2022. Over 70,000 visitors experienced this next step in storytelling at the CSMVS. The success of the exhibition brought in continued appreciation from the museum team and its patrons alike. Leading in to a long-term partnership with a slew of exciting projects on the horizon.





Let’s start a conversation.


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