Essence of 220 Years of the Library

An Educational Exhibition Celebrating the National Szechenyi Library's Anniversary

The Essence exhibition was created to commemorate the 220th anniversary of the founding of the National Szechenyi Library in Hungary. Designed by Maria Gazdag, the exhibition showcases the rich history and complexity of the library's collection through an integrated educational experience. With its unique approach and attention to detail, Essence offers visitors a captivating journey through the world of books and knowledge.

The Essence exhibition stands out for its ability to communicate with visitors from diverse backgrounds. Located in the common areas of the library building, the exhibition attracts not only employees and readers but also tourists visiting the castle district. The challenge was to create an exhibition that could engage and educate visitors with varying levels of knowledge about the library's treasures.

Flexibility was a key consideration in designing the exhibition elements. The exhibition utilizes approximately 1300m2 of common area, with the aim of preserving the functionality and characteristics of the space. The exhibition elements are strategically placed along the walls, allowing the building to retain its original purpose. Overhead structures are used to connect different areas, providing a cohesive experience for visitors.

Sustainability was also a priority in the realization of the exhibition. The design team aimed to minimize the use of structural materials, preserving the unique features of the space. Energy-efficient LED lights were installed, creating a more welcoming atmosphere while reducing energy consumption. Additionally, the team repurposed picture frames from storage, giving them new life with fresh colors. This not only helped keep costs down but also allows for easy content changes in the future.

The Essence exhibition offers a multi-sensory experience for visitors. A visual storyline guides them through the fragmented space, highlighting the history of book production. Interactive screens provide additional information, allowing visitors to virtually turn the pages of treasured books. Sound terminals offer the opportunity to listen to old soundtracks or hear present-day guardians of the collection share stories about the library's treasures.

Designing the Essence exhibition was a meticulous process that started in January 2022 and was completed on-site by November 26, 2022. The National Szechenyi Library in Budapest, Hungary, provided the perfect backdrop for this educational and immersive experience.

The Essence exhibition has received recognition for its outstanding design. It was awarded the Iron A' Design Award in 2023 in the Interior Space, Retail, and Exhibition Design category. This prestigious award honors designs that are well-crafted, practical, and innovative, meeting professional and industrial standards. The Essence exhibition, with its thoughtful design and commitment to creating a better world through knowledge and culture, truly deserves this accolade.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: Maria Gazdag
Image Credits: Photographer: Gyorgy Darabos
Project Team Members: Creative concept and exhibition design: Maria Gazdag Graphic design: Tamas Takacs
Project Name: Essence of 220 Years of the Library
Project Client: Maria Gazdag

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