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Shw'mae! I’m Rachael, one of the graphic designers here at Amgueddfa Cymru.

Branding an event or exhibition is one of my favourite parts of my role across our museums. The project team often meet and throw ideas around, seeking sources of inspiration from our collections and the public connections people have with whatever exhibition or event we’re preparing.

We knew that Burton was going to mean a lot to visitors, but how to approach it was an important focus for this project. There are plenty of people who know who Burton is, but an early exit from Hollywood meant that he didn’t get his “final act”. As such, a whole generation missed out on seeing him act through his twilight years, and we found that Burton is an unknown name in young audiences in particular.

We experimented with a 1960s mid-century feel at first, playing with Burton’s profile in a traditional theatre style. Because of his changing life, we found that while some people recognised the illustration instantly, others didn’t see “their” Burton. 

Taking those bright colours on black we began to try adding photographs from Burton’s life, giving a representation of the Burton who people knew, and who they would get to know in the course of the exhibition. However, our leading man needed a larger centre stage and we went back to our original favourite images to find a strong image which represented the iconic years.

Our final option, against the poster you are now familiar with, was a later-in-life image of Burton, shot by the photographer Douglas Kirkland. This was a personal favourite, but rather than remembering Burton for the tabloid headlines view of an aged, world-weary actor we wanted to show Burton as that and more, the family man, the Welshman, the author. 

A final addition of the red, to symbolise the Hollywood red carpet and Burton’s Welsh roots, made the poster complete.

The Becoming Richard Burton exhibition opened in November, but the exhibition and the museum have been closed due to government guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic since December. We hope that the museum and the exhibition will reopen to visitors again soon. In the meantime, visitors can see some of the photos and personal papers from the exhibition on the Becoming Richard Burton digital platform. Visit the platform now.

Rachael Hazell-Edwards


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