Craft & Graft: Making Science Happen

The Francis Crick Institute
Kings Cross, London UK

1 March 2019 - 8 February 2020

How do you feed a million fruit flies? How does an eyelash become a scientific tool? This exhibition exhibition unveils how The Francis Crick Institute is solving some of the human body’s most challenging problems - and the technical skills needed to do so. Curated by Dr Emily Scott-Dearing, films by SDNA Moving Images, with 3D design by PLAID, and 2D design Margot Lombaert Studio. 

Craft & Graft: Making Science Happen. Photographs courtesy of Thomas S.G. Farnetti/Wellcome 2018.

Exhibitions (Production and Content): Alex Boyes/AB Curatorial Design

Curator: Dr Emily Scott-Dearing

Exhibitions (Project Management): Bryony Benge-Abbott

Films: SDNA Moving Images

3D Design: Plaid Design

2D Design: Margot Lombaert Studio

Marketing and Branding: Jo Ryhnhold

Content type: Science, Technology

More than a thousand scientists work in the laboratories of The Francis Crick Institute, working on a variety of biomedical topics like HIV, influenza and cancer. But their vital biomedical research would be impossible without teams of specialist technicians who move them closer to new discoveries everyday. Liaising with these specialists, The Francis Crick Public Engagement team, and the exhibition’s curator, this exhibition required translating multiple disciplines to create accesible journeys and ignite curiosity.

 Microscopy workstation with citizen-science interactive, Etch a Cell. Photographs courtesy of Thomas S.G. Farnetti/Wellcome 2018.

Craft & Graft resembles five workstations directly inspired from different essential technical service platforms at The Francis Crick; Cell Services, Engineering, Glass Wash, and the Fly Facility. This was also the first time the Francis Crick Institute’s technicians were profiled as part of a featured exhibition to the general public.
Each workstation was carefully curated to demonstrate the unique and necessary skills required to advance scientific discovery. From creatively devising new types of scientific equipment, to ensuring its enormous lab spaces were running effectively thanks to meticulously detailed replenishment.

Cell Services and Microscopy work stations. Photographs courtesy of Thomas S.G. Farnetti/Wellcome 2018.

Interactive content allowed visitors to  experience The Francis Crick Institute’s otherwise inaccessible research facilities, whilst a series of films introduced visitors to The Francis Crick’s very own fly breeders, laser guiders, cell growers, tech fixers and even bottle washers that make its life changing science happen. Films were created by London based film artists SDNA Moving Images, and closely followed the daily workings of staff within each of the five technical platforms.
Interpretation and 2D design was derived from the technician’s personal stories, providing visitors with physical devices to best ensure they felt immersed within the technicians’ environments. Everything from lab-based typography to biomedical call-to-action labels assisted visitor navigation through each of the five techical workstations. At the end of the exhibition, visitors were then invited to reflect on their own skills and how that contributed to their home, work or study projects.

(Left to right) Fly Facility, Engineering and Cell Services workstations. Photograph courtesy of Thomas S.G. Farnetti/Wellcome 2018.

Craft & Graft proved to be The Francis Crick Institute’s most successful exhibition to date, with visitors consistently requesting for more accessible behind the scenes perspectives within future public engagement. From a production perspective it was a creatively rewarding process to work collaboratively across discplines, whilst interfacing with multiple internal/external stakeholders through key delivery phases.

The Francis Crick Institute as a public organisation is also a relatively new organisation formed in 2015, and one that lacks a tangible permanent collection or visual archive to readily translate into content for audiences. Instead its scientists, research and technicians are its living collection, representing a challenge but also unique opportunity when bringing the story of Craft & Graft to life.

 Engineering workstation. Photographs courtesy of Thomas S.G. Farnetti/Wellcome 2018.

Press and Media
Laboratory News, Making the Crick...tick, 20 March 2019.
Nature, From academia to freelance curator, 12 September 2019.

Londonist, How do you feed 1.5 million flies? Craft and Graft exhibition shows secrets of science, 25 February 2019.
The Francis Crick Institute, Craft & Graft: making science happen trailer, 4 March 2019.

© AB Curatorial Design 2020 — London, United Kingdom