Ways of Showing: The Exhibition Architecture of Lina Bo BardiWays of Showing: The Exhibition Architecture of Lina Bo Bardi

The Architectural Exhibitions of Lina Bo Bardi

Ways of Showing: The Exhibition Architecture of Lina Bo Bardi

Museu da Casa Brasileira

Exhibition Design Book Design Creative Direction Research Project Management

Lina Bo Bardi’s modernist architecture transforms any landscape it rests on, its bold angles and vibrant swaths of color demonstrating a unique exploratory exuberance. Yet her parallel history as an exhibition designer and curator in which her groundbreaking creativity was just as evident was up to this point unknown.

The Challenge: Hey You, You at the Back There. Yeah, You!

How do you exhibit on exhibitions, on how artworks were presented over the artworks themselves? Exhibition design is by definition backdrop, seeking the perfect setting in which to best let other works shine. To properly explore Bo Bardi’s exhibition work we had to reconfigure museumgoers’ expectations and pull their focus from the foreground to the BG. Additionally, Bo Bardi’s sketches and drawings regarding the original shows weren’t particularly detailed.

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Solution 1: Redesign and Rebuild

The solution on the surface was simple: let’s bring Bo Bardi’s displays and environments back to life through rebuilding sections of her exhibitions to scale. To compensate for the lack of comprehensive drawings we scoured through archival sources, using photographic records to reconstruct exhibitory elements as faithfully as possible.

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Solution 2: Back to the Future Part IV

To weave together past and present we also exhibited subtly arranged period photographs and original drawings, allowing visitors to grasp the scope of the initial exhibitions. Working in unison, the reconstructions and photos offered the next best thing to actually being there.

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Solution 3: A Flow of Information

In the gallery’s entrance area, gently billowing banners of images and quotations from the architect established a calm introduction to both her and the exhibition.

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Solution 4: Level Up

Lined with cotton fabric and covered with glass, unobtrusively light tables were designed to house Bo Bardi's original drawings.

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Solution 5: Exhibiting the Exhibition

A key goal for all accompanying graphic design elements was a seamless merge between exhibition and environment. Embracing Bo Bardi’s design and aesthetic philosophies, texts set in the modernist typeface Brown were displayed with raw wood–separate letters for titles, cut boards for body texts and printed wood for captions.

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Solution 6: Commemorating Commemoration

For the show’s resultant catalog, the focus was set squarely on letting Bo Bardi’s works do the talking. Throughout (including the cover), images were left untouched by text, and chapter divisions were printed on smaller pages. Much like the show itself, the corresponding catalog is a robust call for the singular brilliance of Bo Bardi’s exhibition work.

Exhibition Curatorship
Giancarlo Latorraca

Exhibition design & Creative Direction
Ana Santiago, Giancarlo Latorraca

Project Management
Ana Santiago

Research & Design
Nuno de Brito Rocha

Executive Production
Valeria Prata
Mariana Oliveira


Artos Cenografia

Bibiano arte

Archival photos
Masp, IMS, Instituto Lina Bo e P. M. Bardi

Documention photos
Renato Parada (MCB)