Historical Thesaurus

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Based on the Oxford English Dictionary, the Historical Thesaurus is the largest thesaurus in the world. Over forty years in the making, it contains almost every word in the English language from Old English to the present, allowing readers to explore words connected in meaning throughout the history of the language.

The Historical Thesaurus is divided into two volumes: a browsable main text thesaurus, and an index to find words that through the ages have been similar to it. It contains over 800,000 meanings organised into more than 236,000 semantic categories and subcategories in a descending hierarchy indicated by a numeric classification system.

The Irish European

Client: Reading Museum & University of Reading (2006)

Design work for this exhibition about the life and work of Irish playwright Samuel Beckett comprised an exhibition poster, events programme, and private view invitation cards, as well as gallery panels, wall lettering, and object labels.

A hierarchy of information caters for different audiences and provides multiple access points to the exhibition :

  • punchy introductory quotations to set the scene for Beckett’s life at the time
  • strong chronological headings to structure the space and guide visitors through the exhibition, followed by limited introductory text and illustrations
  • more extensive text panels which deliberately gave more in-depth information and allowed for more sustained reading
  • object labels with levels of information as appropriate to the objects.

I worked very closely with 3D designer Martin Andrews to ensure the text was integrated in a thearical and visually exciting way. This was particularly so with large panels with carefully selected quotations from Beckett’s plays which became an integral part of the stage reconstruction on a central scaffolding structure.