At the centre of the Department is an exhibition space that is used for a diverse and rich programme of exhibitions. Subjects range from the contemporary to the historical and reflect every aspect of design, printing and lettering – often drawing on our extensive collections. We have featured the work of practicing designers, photographers, artists and illustrators and topics ranging from sweet packaging to ancient Celtic inscriptions.
Students are encouraged to involve themselves in the programme, helping with design, installation, research and publicity and are welcome to propose subjects that interest them.
Visit our exhibitions
The exhibitions are open to the wider University and the public, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm during term time.
On show now
Changing identities: design for corporate identity manuals
12 January - 13 April 2011
Throughout the twentieth century the development of national corporations, institutions and commercial organisations of all types have created a need for graphic identities and consistency in design. These organisations have also generated a need for an ever- increasing number of printed products: stationary, packaging, signing, livery etc. This diverse material needs consistent and coherent design. Many designers and design companies have specialised in this field, not only designing logo types and other forms of graphic devices, but also providing precise and prescriptive rules and regulations for the implementation of these devices - usually in the form of an instruction manual.
Many organisations commission display typefaces for their exclusive use. Others specify existing typefaces but in both cases specification is given for the use of type sizes, spacing and variants.
The material on show in this exhibition has come from the department's collections including the work of Banks & Miles. This company undertook the major commissions to redesign the corporate identities for British Telecom and the Royal Mail in the 1970s and 1980s. The Reading room in the department has numerous examples of design manuals a selection of which are shown in this display.
Some recent exhibitions
'Spreading the news' and 'Around the world'
The exhibition featuring items from the department's extensive newspaper archive is divided into two sections. 'Spreading the news' provides a survey of early newspapers from 1702 to the late nineteenth century. The size and style of these early newspapers also charts the changing typographic layout and printing techniques. Additional material relating to the printing of newspapers including a 'flong' and 'stereo', help to illustrate the techniques and equipment used in the early production of newspapers.
'Around the world' features a selection of newspapers in non-Latin scripts. This material has been selected from our extensive archives on non-Latin scripts that we have been developing in relation to our international MA course in type design. Newspapers printed in Arabic, Bengali and Gujarati and Hindi (Devanagari) are amongst those on display.
Designing information before designers
22 February - 15 April 2010
Department of Typography & Graphic Communication, University of Reading
The exhibition shows and explains a 19th-century version of information design (which is a late 20th-century idea and practice) and something of people's encounters with printed documents for the transactions of everyday life: calendars, almanacs, tax and insurance forms, trade catalogues, maps, timetables, distance charts. These everyday documents were planned and produced by writers, both amateur and professional, by businessmen and traders, by publishers, and by printers. Not much is known about the process of designing for print in an age before designers. What today would be called design decisions about layout, configuration, the relative prominence given to different parts of a text, the printed objects' look and feel would, for most of the century, have been made by the printer's client, or the publisher, or the master printer, and then implemented in detail by compositors, the skilled artisans who set and assembled type.
The exhibition arises from the AHRC-funded project which we are working on at Reading, called: Designing information for everyday life, 1815-1914.
Paul Dobraszczyk, Mike Esbester, Paul Stiff
An exhibition of autolithographed guide books to historic houses and cathedrals written, illustrated and printed by Rena Gardiner from the 1950s to 1990s. January-February 2010.
A photographic exhibition of contemporary bill posters from Slovenia, and a selection of British posters of the twentieth century from the collection of Paul Renner.
If you could see inside: children's books produced by the Isotype Institute in the 1940s
From 12 January to 20 March 2009, curated by Sue Walker.
Otto and Marie Neurath began working on Isotype books for children in the 1940s, between 1947 and the late 1960s the Isotype Institute produced books in series including the Visual History of Mankind, Wonders of the Modern World, Visual Science, The Wonder World of Nature, They Lived Like This. Many were translated into languages other than English, including German, Japanese, French, Danish, and Italian.
This exhibition was part of our AHRC-funded Isotype re-visited project.
FRENCH 'MODERNE': graphic arts in France 1920 to 1939
The theme of this exhibit is the world of Paris between the wars. It focusses on the work of some of the key personalites and firms at the centre of the drive to modernize the French graphics arts industries, and examines the context in which the French led the way in the move from 'commercial art' to 'graphic design'.
This exhibition accompanied the 'Non-Latin typeface design' conference held in the Department.
Couleurs: les prouesses de la chromolithographie
From 16 November 2007 to 17 February 2008, held at the Musée de l'imprimerie de Lyon. Curated by Michael Twyman.
This is the first exhibition devoted to chromolithography anywhere. As such it should extend understanding of the subject, especially as it incorporates the findings of ten year's work on a book (which will not be published for three or four more years). The exhibition includes about 500 exhibits, drawn from, among others the Bibliothèque nationale de France and British, American and Canadian collections. The exihibition is accompanied by an extensive illustrated catalogue and also by a book, Chromo-lithographie: Godefroy Engelmann et Charles Hullmandel en contexte, Musée de l'imprimerie de Lyon, 2007. This focuses on the work of two men with Alsatian connections and compares their contributions to the development of lithographic colour printing in 1830s. It incorporates new findings about Engelmann's invention of 'chromo-lithographie' in Mulhouse, and his attempts to promote the process in Paris and various parts of Germany.
Edward Wright: design work
An exhibition of work by this enigmatic painter, object-maker, typographer, writer and teacher.
From 'Catch the rat!' to Janet and John: children's reading books from 1880 to 1960
An exhibition of material used in the Typographic Design for Children project funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council between 2001 and 2005. Curated by Head of Department Sue Walker.
Coloured specimen plates of decorative lettering and typefaces printed by chromolithography in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Also including other sign-writing manuals, equipment and photographs from the Department's Lettering Collection.
Selections from the international competition of type design organised by the Association Typographique Internationale (ATypI).
Inscriptions from the early Christian period in Wales
Early Christian inscriptions made in Wales between the 5th and 7th centuries A.D. under the retreating influence of the Roman Empire. The exhibition was compiled over three years by Peter Cartwright and Ann Pillar, and consisted of numerous paper casts ('squeezes'), photographs and extended captions explaining this fascinating sphere of Latin epigraphy.
Paul Peter Piech: text & image
Linocut posters from this politically and morally charged graphic artist
See me Hear me: stories & other texts by Margaret Hodges
Text as illustration, demonstration, declaration and visual art
An informal exhibition of contemporary graphic ephemera sent to the offices of hdr design/Bradbourne Publishing during 2002. Collected and presented by Hans Dieter Reichert
A touring exhibition from Ditchling museum
Design & Print Unit at work
a display of work designed and printed by the Department
Embossing and compound plate printing
An exhibition of printed ephemera
Kathleen Hale (1898-2000)
Artist, writer and creator of Orlando the marmalade cat
From the collections of the Department
Type design for Rome for year 2000