Marie Neurath was a designer whose appealing and accessible graphic style helped explain complex science subjects to children in the mid-twentieth century. Through an exhibition and teaching resources, Sue Walker has given Neurath’s work the showcase it deserves and encouraged educators to recognise its continued relevance for primary teaching.

Marie Neurath was a ground-breaking graphic designer who developed an innovative and creative approach to explaining science to children in the 1950s and 1960s. She generously donated her work to the University in 1971. Professor Sue Walker has now brought to light the important collection to inspire the wider public and educators alike.

Professor Walker designed and delivered a programme of activities to raise awareness of Neurath’s work and to encourage primary educators to apply her ideas in today’s teaching. An exhibition of the work at the House of Illustration in London attracted over 10,000 visitors. It received excellent reviews and inspired the gallery to run children’s workshops and a symposium, Women in Print. A digital version of the exhibition will extend its reach further.

Working closely with schools in Reading, Professor Walker and colleagues developed a suite of resources to support primary school science. The slide shows and worksheets use Marie Neurath’s illustrations that include techniques such as cross-section, magnification, and picture sequences to explain structures and phenomena. And now, the University’s Cole Museum of Zoology is set to use these educational resources – the perfect opportunity to highlight an important University collection to local visitors.

In partnership with House of Illustration, Design Science, Rivermead Primary School, St Dominic Savio Primary School, Fraser Muggeridge Studios

Funded by Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Shortlisted for the University Research Engagement and Impact Awards 2020

First published: June 2020