‘The Alienist’

Exhibition Design

An installation displays artifacts from the TNT limited series based on Caleb Carr’s novel.

“The Alienist” is the new TNT limited series adaptation of Caleb Carr's best-selling psychological thriller set in 1896 New York. Pentagram created the design for The Alienist: From Sketchbook to Screen, a special exhibition of artifacts from the series, including original costumes by the award-winning costume designer Michael Kaplan (the “Star Wars“ sequel trilogy, “Blade Runner,” “Fight Club”). Following a run at New York's Time Warner Center, the installation is currently on view at the Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles through March 25.

A gripping turn-of-the-century murder mystery set amidst the underbelly of New York’s Gilded Age, the series follows a brilliant and obsessive alienist (the era’s term for a psychiatrist working in the controversial new field of treating mental pathologies) as he hunts down a never-before-seen ritualistic killer through new methods like fingerprinting and psychology. The show stars Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans and Dakota Fanning. 

Like the novel, the series vividly juxtaposes the wealth, criminality and sexual exploitation of New York’s complex social fabric. The installation uses the large gridded windows seen in the hospitals, jails, and mansions of 19th century New York as a frame through which to view the characters’ costumes. Suspended from an overhead canopy, and held within the cage-like frames and displayed as headless figures, the display conjures “The Alienist’s” sense of menace. In its small footprint, the installation evokes the atmosphere of the series, and enables visitors to inspect the garments and their exquisite detailing up close. 

Along with the range of costumes selected by Kaplan, the installation includes drawings and photographs of the sets and locations, as well as images of the props and references that evoke the character of 1896 New York. Visitors can also pick up a free copy of the original novel.

Pentagram previously designed an outdoor installation for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the award-winning Hulu series based on the novel by Margaret Atwood.

Exhibition Design
New York
Abbott Miller
Project team
Kirsty Gundry
Natasha Amladi
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