Sarner designs, produces and installs a new exhibition about Ernest Shackleton

In February 2022, a new exhibition about Ernest Shackleton, the great polar explorer, opened at the Royal Geographical Society in London.

The exhibition, titled: ‘Shackleton’s legacy and the power of early Antarctic photography’, marks the hundredth year since the death of one of the most notable figures of the early 20th century geographical advancement.

The project, designed, produced, and installed by Sarner, partly relies on existing assets from a touring exhibition originally produced by Sarner in 2015. A sizeable section of content was modified to fit the updated interpretive angle: looking at Shackleton’s life and legacy.

Whilst the core of the exhibition is centred around Shackleton’s most celebrated achievement i.e. rescuing the ‘Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition’ party, great relevance is also given to Shackleton’s childhood and early life, the years before the expedition, and his later endeavours until his death in 1922 while on a different expedition.

Sarner’s experience and visual approach have allowed the drama of Shackleton’s life to come to the fore, and the many layers of his life to be clearly delineated in a complex and nuanced experience.

Although the exhibition includes contributions from a variety of sources, much of the visual content is based on Frank Hurley’s seminal Antarctic photography work.

Giacomo Maracchioni, Sarner’s Lead Designer on the show, has been absorbed by the project from its inception:“From a design perspective there is nothing more rewarding than working with such outstanding content. Our approach has been focused on highlighting the existing qualities of the materials on display, translating their intrinsic value into the space”.

Visitors are guided through a series of zones characterised by an immersive approach, both indoors and outdoors. Large environmental decals have transformed the venue’s walls into a living display, blurring the boundary between the exhibition contents and the architecture. Constant modulation in style and varied design solutions make for a surprising and engaging journey, enriched by simple and effective sets, use of light-boxes and retro-projected negative displays, painting reproductions, rare artifacts – all contributing to a rich visual vocabulary that adapts to and enhances the many facets of the story.

This exhibition is testament to the longstanding collaboration between Sarner and the RGS, which share the same passion for communicating great stories.

Alasdair MacLeod, the Society’s Head of Enterprise and Resources has project managed the exhibition content since its first inception and creation in 2015: “Our re-telling of this extraordinary story for a contemporary audience relies on the powerful display of the photographic material drawn largely from our Collections; Sarner have been inspirational in their design collaboration with us. The overwhelmingly positive response from visitors confirms the quality of the treatment and we are delighted to see the material draw new audiences to our geographical collections as a result.”

‘Shackleton’s legacy and the power of early Antarctic photography’ exhibition is at the Society from 7 February until 4 May 2022

Photography by Frank Hurley © RGS-IBG

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