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The Organ

On behalf of Zwickau district
Period 2020 - 2021
  • Curation
  • Exhibition Design
  • Implementation

The organ. Queen of instru­ments. Imposing size, power­ful sound, and so much more than just a church instrument. Its history is closely inter­woven with the Free State of Saxony, namely with Gott­fried Silbermann, the most influential organ builder of the Baroque era. Reason enough for a homage! The exhibition "The Organ – Miracle of Sound Art" in Walden­burg Castle near Chemnitz provided unique insights into the organ's inner life by pre­senting Saxon Organ Academy's collection in a new way by play­fully conveying the history, function, and beauty of this unique instrument.

Immerse yourself in the topic

Curatorial Concept

As exhi­bition de­signers, we usually work closely with curators: They have the ex­pertise on the ex­hi­bition topic and deter­mine the content. We then bring these into a form of presen­tation that is enjoyable (and edu­cational) for as many people as possible. But with the organ exhi­bition, we took on both mandates for the first time – curation AND design! To do this, we first had to become organ experts ourselves. We went searching for clues – for people, places, instruments, and stories in archives. We attended workshops and visited museums. With the know­ledge we gathered, we eva­luated the colle­ction at the castle and devel­oped a pointed, cura­torial concept with an exciting ex­hibition drama­turgy.



"We wanted the existing organ exhibition in the castle to be upgraded. With ungestalt at our side, a completely new, interactive, unique exhibition was created. Thank you for the creativity, competence, and uncomplicated cooperation."

Ina Klemm, Managing Director Tourismus und Sport GmbH, Schloss Waldenburg

The queen of instruments

Basic design idea

Our design approach is borrow­ed from the character­istics of an organ. For example, the main part of the instrument is norma­lly invisible to listeners, which gave us the impetus for a zig­zagging timeline. This calms the entrance scene because the text­ual plane is revealed only when the audience enters the room. The verti­cality and variance of the pipes inspired our choice of typeface: "Pressio" is a strongly vertical type­face that is used in various condensed weights through­out the exhibition. All exhibi­tion elements make use of a royal blue color palette, befitting the queen of instruments. Some­times warm and elegant, some­times in bright­ly active tones, depending on the desired spatial effect and form of use.

Old becomes new!

Modern collection presentation

The basis of the new ex­hi­bition is, one, the instrument collec­tion the Saxon Organ Academy donated to the castle, and two, the struc­turally integrated organ of the castle chapel, whose gigan­tic pipe apparatus and bellows can be seen from behind in one of the exhibi­tion rooms. After examining and eva­lua­ting the collection, we put together a selection of meaning­ful objects for the new ex­hibi­tion. In concrete terms, this meant that we restaged instruments and instrument parts and embedded them drama­turgically; we revised existing models in terms of design and pedagogy. We supple­mented the whole thing with exhibition texts, images, info­graphics, and a new playable Jehmlich organ.

Play me!

Focus on interactivity

Haptics, optics, acoustics – instru­ments are a sensual plea­sure! In the case of the organ, however, also a compli­cated one. That's why it takes more than frontal teach­ing and long instructional texts to under­stand how it works. And because theory becomes more tangible and exciting through varied, inter­active appli­cations, we have al­ready emphasized multi­sen­sory and inter­ac­tivity in the cur­atorial concept. Visitors read, listen, look, press, strum, produce sounds, operate bellows and strike keys. The (interactive) centerpiece is the newly built functional model of an organ (a master­piece of the tra­ditional Saxon work­shop Jehmlich). In add­ition, we have incorporated in­struments and models from the collection with interactive functions. 

Special challenge

Interim exhibition

Although we had already planned the content of the entire ex­hibition space (200 square meters) in the cura­torial concept, it then turned out that the rooms could not be fully re­novated until 2022 due to funding re­gula­tions. To prevent there from being nothing to see until then, the ex­hibition is being implemen­ted (and opened) in two stages, the first of which we are now pre­senting – an interim exhibition of six of the total of eight partially reno­vated rooms. For the design, this meant that all exhibition elements had to be reversible or resto­rable at a low cost, without the overall effect losing quality. Wood­chip wall­paper and unchange­able power connec­tions were just two of the many challenges for which we found flexible, cre­ative solutions. 


Organ, Act II

Conclusion and Outlook

Even if the organ ex­hibi­tion is not yet complete, its first part is a well-rounded object that is worth seeing and of which we are in­cre­dibly proud. Not least because we dared something new with our first, own curation – and promptly fell in love anew! The project and the people we met along the journey touched and enriched us through their incredible knowledge, in­spiring vision, and their absolute dedi­cation to an instru­ment that we now too see with com­pletely different eyes. 

Portrait Ivo Zibulla

Direct contact for Consultancy & Branding

Ivo Zibulla

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