Globe exhibit wins international acclaim

The Globe’s “Universe of Particles” exhibition has recently received four prestigious awards for its avant-garde design. This external praise is great encouragement for the CERN exhibitions currently on the drawing board.


The Universe of Particles exhibition has won 4 awards for its avant-garde design.

Back in 2008, the design company Atelier Brückner was presented with a challenge: to design the layout of a new permanent exhibition for CERN, one that would epitomize both the Organization and its research. The brief was concise but complex: the exhibit had to be symbolic of the Organization, use modern technology, engage and immerse visitors, and, preferably, use touch-screen technology.

With the help of IArt, an interactive technology firm, and based on the content provided by CERN’s Education Group, Atelier Brückner developed the “Universe of Particles” exhibit as it is today. Its principal concept centred on the spherical shape, symbolic of the world of fundamental particles and our concept of a spherical Universe.

“Because of the nature of the work at CERN, we understood at an early stage that the content of the exhibition would have to develop and change over time as the experiments brought new insights,” says Uwe R. Brückner, creative director for Atelier Brückner. “So our challenge was to find a content-generated design language that would also allow changes to individual stories or displays over time, while maintaining the common idea or image of the space.” The spherical design has received the following awards: the DDC Award "Good Design 11" for Space/Architecture, the Annual Multimedia Award 2011, the ADC Award in Silver, and the European Design Award for Digital (Misc.) design.

While the exhibition design has received external commendation, CERN has mandated an evaluation of how well the content achieves the initial objectives. “With the Globe exhibit having just celebrated its first anniversary and the redevelopment of Microcosm currently on the drawing board, now is the ideal time to gauge public opinion on our displays,” explains Rolf Landua, Head of the Education Group. “It’s important to have a good understanding of visitor opinion that we might apply to future exhibitions and other forms of interpretation.”

The group has mandated external expert Ben Gammon, former head of the London Science Museum’s visitor research team, to conduct a multi-pronged evaluation of both the Globe and Microcosm, combining visitor tracking, exit interviews and accompanied visits. The survey will measure several aspects of the visitors’ experience, and check whether the content of the exhibitions is appropriately pitched for the audience and successfully conveys CERN’s messages about particle physics and the Organization.

Data taking has already started and the final report is due this autumn. “The evaluation will identify the approaches that are successful in attracting and holding visitors’ attention, and also those that are unsuccessful,” explains Ben Gammon. “We will be gathering detailed information not just about the exhibitions as a whole, but on the specific elements within each space. This will give us an idea of which aspects could be changed to increase visitor enjoyment, engagement and learning.”

With the upgrade of Microcosm starting later in the year, the acclaimed Universe of Particles exhibition open and the upcoming Globe Gardens project on the table, CERN is a step closer towards a comprehensive, world-class visitor centre.

by Katarina Anthony