On the Shoulders of Giants

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1973

Former Eames Office staff member Jehanne Burns said that Charles, upon being asked to design a show on Isaac Newton, responded, “You can’t go straight from Copernicus to Newton.  You need to do something else in between.”  Therefore, the Eames Office created an exhibition about the astronomer’s predecessors: Brahe, Kepler, Descartes, Galileo, and Gilbert.

The show’s title was based on Newton’s quote: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”  Like their previous science-based exhibitions designed for IBM, this one coincided with a holiday season—in this case, the pre-Christmas month of Advent.

On the Shoulders of Giants featured freestanding triangular displays with text, photographs, and other interpretive materials to guide visitors from the works of the five scientists on to Newton’s study of calculus and development of the principles of gravitation.

After the show’s run at the IBM Corporate Exhibit Center in New York, it traveled to other institutions nationwide.