With the raft of safety measures all venues now have to take in order to welcome visitors, ensuring everyone is clear on how to safely explore spaces is vital.
While this is a legal requirement brought on by an existential threat to lives and livelihoods the world over, a little levity is perhaps now more important than ever.
Units of measurement
Just because we are in an unprecedented situation doesn’t mean tried and tested approaches won’t work. In this spirit, the MERL has reprised an old favourite to great effect.
Rolling back the years to another classic, Detroit’s Motown Museum has put a new spin on social distancing signage. Diana Ross & The Supremes’ timeless record is the inspiration for its Covid-conscious wayfinding.
In a similar vein to the MERL’s approach, animals have formed the basis of many museums’ post-pandemic safety signage. Whether they’re cute, intriguing or downright scary, it seems that the inclusion of four-legged fauna is seen as a good way of keeping socially distant visitors on side.
For those who don’t enjoy staying a certain number of animals apart, other units of measurement are available. Rochester’s Huguenot Museum has dispensed with the futuristic metric system in order to measure a safe distance in a more appropriate way. Ell of an idea!
Going back even further to Ancient Egypt makes the use of metres obsolete once again. While far too few modern audiences understand hieroglyphics, some poses were just invented for social distancing.
Go big, but don’t go home
Of course, 2D signage just isn’t enough for some institutions. Weston Park Museum, run by Museums Sheffield, has utilised the sewing skills of visitor assistant Vicky to transform a popular exhibit into an unavoidable advert for appropriate safety attire. A mammoth achievement (well, nearly. It’s actually its a rhino).
When Weston Park does signage, it doesn’t do so by halves. Why keep messaging on A4 print-outs when you can attach it to the outside of a building for the whole community to see?
Once again interweaving coronavirus caution with items from a collection, Oxford’s Ashmolean has produced a range of striking wayfinding materials that twin some of its statues with Covid-secure masks.
Just to be clear: encouraging the wearing of face coverings is the message here, the museum does not countenance public nudity.
Signage not your thing? Never fear! The V&A has just the alternative for those with a penchant for queueing systems. The museum’s deputy director and chief operations officer, Tim Reeve, providing the illicit imagery here.
If you’re into queuing systems, these are for you. You’re welcome. pic.twitter.com/lxMlsvdMHT
— Tim Reeve (@reeve_tim) August 27, 2020
On the ball
No need to spy on the National Football Museum to find out its Covid-19 safety measures. Staying true to its focus, the social media team left it in Marcelo Bielsa’s capable hands to talk visitors through its guidance on one of his trademark slideshows.
Next slide, please. 📈
— Nat. Football Museum (@FootballMuseum) September 21, 2020
Another great use of signage combined with social media here.
If you are going to link wayfinding materials to collections, make sure they are engaging and leave audiences wanting more. Historic Royal Palaces aced this, offering extra tidbits online for curious visitors.
Here they are! These pairs of 18th-century court shoes are all part of our Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection 👠
(Do feel free to wear something more comfy on your visit of course 😉) (2/2) pic.twitter.com/R12CHxr0OA
— Historic Royal Palaces (@HRP_palaces) September 29, 2020
Taking a “simple, open and warm” approach to Covid communications is recommended by marketing firm Crystallised, following research it conducted between March and July. It’s clear that fun is a fourth part of the equation that many museums have utilised to great effect.
Regardless of global health emergencies or financial crises, the culture sector remains willing to support, inform and entertain audiences at all times: a sign of utter dedication to the people it serves.