Exhibition design and custom typeface design for Glimpsing Truro’s Past at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro, Cornwall, UK.
Custom Typeface Design
Truro was granted city status in 1877, but its origins can be traced back to at least the 12th century. It remains the only city in Cornwall.
The museum’s own history is part of the story of Truro. This exhibition demonstrates how the Royal Institution of Cornwall, which has been an important part of the city for more than 200 years, can bring the past of Truro to life through objects and historic documents.
We were invited by the Royal Cornwall Museum to create a unique experience at the museum that celebrates the city of Truro through the presentation of historic artefacts and documents. The ambition was to enhance engagement with the desired audience groups and create an experience that is provocative, reflective and informative. And, to represent the institutions strategic ambition to more closely align itself to that of a contemporary art gallery, and celebrate the value of its collection as a meaningful resource for the Cornish community.
Rooted in the ambition of the institution is a desire to communicate a sense of history, place and society and an ambition to connect with its audiences through the presentation of artefacts and documents—to inspire stories and memories of the people that live and work in Truro. In the period of post Covid-19 Lockdown, there is an emerging collective appreciation of what we value and this has provided a moment of reflection for the kind of collective futures we desire. The exhibition provides the opportunity to reflect on the city’s history, contemplate its past and to be inspired to imagine a positive future for Truro.
On a site visit to the Museum and the city we were drawn to the street signs that we observed throughout Truro. The names of these streets refer to past associations: Castle Street, River Street, Duke Street, Edward Street, Kenwyn Street, St Dominic Street. And for us the design of these signs, their production, materiality and the hand lettering was a point of inspiration.
We designed and created a custom typeface inspired by these signs and drawn from the historical fabric of the city. And, in doing so, the design becomes something inherently a part of Truro reflecting aspects of its history, its contemporary culture and its future.
The custom typeface ‘Truro’ is used for display and headings across applications and this is supported by the typeface ABC Social, used in a text weight to compliment Truro. ABC Social is a typeface created, as the name suggests, as a large collaborative effort by a whole cast of type designers. And for this reason, for its diversity and complex social cohesion, the typeface was chosen to represent the diversity of the heritage, rich history and culture of Truro.
The exhibition design has been inspired by the street signs of Truro. By creating a custom typeface drawn from the historical fabric of the city, the design becomes something inherently a part of Truro, reflecting aspects of its history, its contemporary culture and its future.
Glimpsing Truro’s Past is a community curated exhibition co-created by people who volunteer at the Museum, who live in the city or who simply love Truro.
Creative Director: Bryony Robins
Curator: Margaret Morgan
Communications and Interpretation Manager: Amy Shakespeare
Photography: Steve Tanner
Custom Typeface Design