Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

If you’ve ever had the opportunity to go to a museum as grand as The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET), then you know how expansive museums can be and how important it is to know where you’re at and to know how to get where you want to go. Signage is a crucial component of this wayfinding journey as it helps inform you where you are, where you want to go, where you cannot go, and just as importantly how to get out in the case of an emergency In this blog, we’ll discuss how wayfinding is an essential component of the museum experience, and we’ll discuss the types of wayfinding signage you’ll see in a wonderfully developed wayfinding system.

Environmental Graphics and Murals

Museums each have their own style and their own focus, and so it’s important for signage to reflect that. Not only does it help with branding, but it also helps provide a sense of place. That’s why environmental graphics and murals are so often incorporated into the interior space of a museum. These graphics can reflect the most famous artwork in the museum, or present and future exhibitions, or in the case of some museums these interior graphics and murals can be the very art themselves that is being shown off to patrons.

Banners and Temporary Signage

British Museum
British Museum

Museums are often known for their vaulted ceilings, as some of the art they may contain can be on an enormous scale. Therefore its quite common for museums to have the space to have sizeable exterior and interior signage that showcases the art inside the museum. This often comes in the form of temporary, or seasonal, signage such as banners. It is a common practice to use these types of banners in particular when promoting both current exhibitions and future exhibitions. These banners can also be used long term for permanent exhibitions, especially if the banner is designed to match the frequently rotating banners in design tyle.

Placards, Placques, and Identifying Signs

Willie Nelson and Friends Museum and Nashville Souvenirs
Willie Nelson and Friends Museum and Nashville Souvenirs

Museums may hold anywhere from dozens of art pieces to thousands, and even though some are famous and easily identifiable by nearly all, each art piece will have an identifying sign such as a placard or plaque below or beside the piece of art. These wayfinding signs inform the visitors of the art’s name (if it has one), often its year of creation, its creator of known, and perhaps even other information such as its place of origin or material make-up. While the art in many ways may speak for itself, these placques help inform you of the story of the arts creation in one way or the other.

Especially in an exhibit for a featured artist, or for a significant piece, there may be sizeable signs beside the art as well that tell even more of the story. These signs may include quotes from the artist, an insight into the history of the time or the piece itself, or perhaps sign a light on what the artist’s life was like. There’s certainly no end to how these signs may be used, and museums may each find their own indepent uses for how they like to incorporate such wayfindign informational signs around their art pieces on display.

Digital Kiosks

Increasingly museums look for new ways to provide engaging and entertaining experiences for visitors of all ages and one such tool to help them achieve this is in the form of digital kiosks. Digital kiosks can help provide wayfinding information as well as helpful information of all sorts on the exhibits, the museum itself, and more. Many of these kiosks can also be utilized to include audio and visual experiences including for those with auditory or visual impairments.

ADA Signage

ADA is an integral component of wayfinding signage and it is essential in public buildings and public spaces. To many laypersons, ADA signage seems to consist simply of signs with braille; however, as our in-house Ortwein Sign ADA experts can attest there’s a lot more to it than that as ADA signage guidelines include requirements on readability, placement of the signs, font styles, and more.

Museums regardless of size will often need a variety of ADA signs to complement their wayfinding system. This includes signage in the case of emergencies, signage identifying permanent room uses, including bathrooms, signage that identifies tools for accessibility and more. By utilizing these effectively you not only ensure you are in compliance but you also help broaden the accessibility of your museum to as many people as possible.