Eat and Be Eaten

Merit Award

Eat and Be Eaten began as an exhibition when Liberty Science Center needed to keep its live animal collection while its main building was closed for expansion. It would be on display for two years in temporary space and then move back to the main building upon completion of the renovation. It was designed as a modular system of durable hexagonal structures that could easily be reconfigured and expanded.

One of the challenges was to create a rich, immersive, photographic space within a small budget and short timeline. Ten-foot-tall photographs printed on high-pressure laminate cover the walls of the exhibit structures, surrounding the viewer in images of natural textures. Macro views reinforce the idea of looking closer, and underline some of the adaptations of the featured animals. To add contrast and pacing, some walls of the exhibition are stained wood routed with elaborate natural patterns.

With the walls angled and the tank faces curved, graphics appear on each side of each tank so visitors approaching from any direction can see interpretation. The species identification panels are mounted to the walls on standoffs as tabs coming off the sides of the tanks; these acrylic tabs are custom cut so that the shapes of some of the animals break the plane.

Images of animals are silhouetted on the interpretive graphics to allow them to stand out from the wall photography as design elements, and also to make them easy to see and understand. Different colors are used within the graphics to identify different areas within the exhibition; a bright palette appeals to the traditional audience. The overall graphic design creates an exhibition with a youthful feel, sophisticated enough to appeal to all ages.

Jury Comments: 

"A wonderful exhibit of live animals housed in hexagonal structures with large-scale interpretive graphics allows the visitors to fully engage with the animals and their habitats. Visitors are able to navigate by the four different colors used within the signage and graphic displays. The use of large-scale photography and up-close shots of the animals engages the visitor."

Design Firm: 

Liberty Science Center


Libert Science Center

Location City: 

Jersey City, New Jersey

Project Area: 


Open Date: 


Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 

Denis Finnin

Design Team: 

Katherine McCusker (exhibit design), Liz Grotyohann (graphic design), Rich Weddle (Project Leader and animal husbandry), Christina Botti, Melissa Chin, Betty Faber, Ph.D, Daniel Mendez (content), Chrys Cruz, Donough Ryan, Dennis Hercel (LSC fabrication and installation), Ellen Lynch (Director, Exhibition Development), Ann Neumann (Director, Design), Wayne LaBar (Vice President, Exhibitions & Theaters)


Available Light (lighting design), Anita Llewellyn (writer)


Art Guild, Inc.

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