Museums are more than showplaces for art and information: they are venues where people gather.
Amid the COVID-19 crisis and possibly well beyond it, we are faced with environmental challenges that demand physical distancing. This new normal requires a thoughtful approach to the way we conduct business. For museums worldwide, a delicate balance must be struck between making visitors feel welcome while maintaining rigorous protocols that keep them safe.
Here are five ways cultural institutions are effectively using signage and other forms of visual communication to enhance their reopening efforts.
Share important new protocols. Whatever protective measures you decide to take to as you plan to reopen, it’s critically important that you clearly present them to your staff and visitors. Let everyone know what will be different and what behavioral changes are expected. This is central to everything you do, so don’t leave it up to chance. Develop consistent messaging and welcoming phraseology that conveys to visitors that the new protocols are designed to keep them safe. In addition to using this language on signage in the lobby and throughout your institution, it should appear on your website and be delivered verbally by your staff as they greet guests.
Reimagine necessary safety tools. Rather than viewing protective requirements as barriers, why not use them as opportunities to engage your patrons? For example, if wearing masks will be required of all visitors, provide them for free. Convey a welcoming message by offering them in bright colors or imprinted with images from your collection. Give thought to the masks your staff members are wearing, too. They should be just as cheery and welcoming, and they could also be used to reinforce your institution’s branding.
Keep visitors entertained while they wait. Social distancing requirements are likely to create the inconvenience of waiting in line. Use this time to support the shift away from museum-owned devices to visitor-owned devices, which removes the burden and liability of sanitizing in-house instruments. If you’re offering audio tours from handheld devices or you have an app, signage posted along the queue is the perfect place to provide visitors with directions for how to download it onto their phones while they wait. You could also keep things interesting by placing small signs along the waiting line, alternating between trivia questions and answers.
Boost wayfinding efforts. Most museum venues will need to go beyond existing signage to take visitors safely through their facilities. Communicating with guests in a clear, concise, and brand-appropriate voice will reassure them during their visit, promote proper behaviors, and reinforce their overall experience. Any temporary wayfinding signage that’s added needs to attract attention and be seen, while also being visually appealing.
Support your new visitor journey. Temporary signage in multiple languages and pictograms can be tremendously helpful in this effort. For example, have you have enacted a one-way movement system to avoid congestion in stairwells and doorways? Communicate this information to visitors with eye-catching signage systems. Large museums with multiple entrances are likely to have numerous visitor journeys, so it’s important to consider the best way to explain this to your guests. Color-coding different routes, for example, is one way to logically separate visitors as they move through the building.
The coronavirus pandemic is likely to impact our world in profound and lasting ways. That means museum reopenings will be far from business as usual. Each cultural institution is unique and the approach to these significant changes will be just as unique. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of workable solutions to help people socially engage while they remain physically distant.
The experienced team at Adler Display is a design resource you can count on. For more than 80 years, cultural institutions worldwide have turned to us for creative, inspiring display solutions. Contact our friendly, knowledgeable professionals to learn more.
About Adler Display: Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, Adler Display brings more than 80 years of experience to its clients in need of recognition displays, lobby and corporate interiors, custom exhibits, historical timelines, trade show displays, and signage and graphics. For more information about Adler Display, please visit the website at https://www.adlerdisplay.com/ or call 855-552-3537.