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NMAH Electronic Signage

Page history last edited by Mary Kate du Laney 11 years, 6 months ago

Project Title:  Entryway Electronic Sign

Media Category: Digital Sign

Museum/ Institution:  Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Program Created:  part of 2008 reopening

Program URL (if available):  


Project Image(s) and/or Video



Media Source(s)/Credit(s):

MKdL 2011


Program Description: (150-250 words)

This entryway electronic sign is located at the Constitution Ave. entrance of Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.  It is located in front of the security checkpoint, at the Information/Ticket counter, which serves for museum info and special auditorium event ticketing.  The signs are located on both sides of the counter, above the employees.  On the left hand side of each display, there is a slide show of exhibits and activities throughout the museum, with location information, such as 1 West.  It also includes slides about the gift shops, the simulator rides, and the Thinkfinity online teacher resources.  On the right hand side of the display, there is a calendar of daily events with location and brief description.  Each slide fades out before another appears.  There is little internal animation, mostly on the simulators screen, which consists of text fade-in and "twinkling" stars.  Half of each screen is taken up by a color block, as seen in the sample photo, with black box and white text containing the screen title.


Firsthand or secondary review/critique: (150-250 words) 

It is tough to critique this without comparing it to the amazing signage present right next door at Natural History.  Honestly, the difference is like comparing a professional soccer team in England to the league I played on at age 6.  While the information is clear at American History, the display has a number of visual issues.  First, entirely too much space is taken up by the color blocks.  This causes the text, particularly on the schedule of events screens, to be extremely small.  I was standing only about 6 feet away to take the photo/video, and as you can see, it was not very clear, even when using the zoom.  I had to get rather close to the counter to be able to read the schedules, and at that point, I may as well have asked one of the staff members/volunteers to suggest activities.  The slideshow itself was not exciting, and did not make me take much notice of the information presented.  It seemed to be a basic Powerpoint-style production, with no clear tie-in to overall museum design.  Finally, I am confused by its placement, as the Mall entrance, where the main info desk is located, has nothing like it, and seems, in my experience working there, to be the more heavily used doorway.  I think the sign is a good start, but I would like to see something more dynamic that includes a map of where the suggested activities are located.


Technologies incorporated: Electronic slideshow, no audio, no video, fading screenshots


Internally or externally produced: internally


Entry Contributor and Date: Mary Kate du Laney, 8 March 2011


Related projects:  NMNH signage (I was so bummed that I was beaten to the punch on this one)

Comments (1)

Mary Whitworth said

at 10:08 am on Mar 9, 2011

I can see where their signage has problems. With so many people visiting at one time it would get congested at the desk with everyone trying to read the schedule and get their tickets. It would benefit more visitors if it had been strategically placed where visitors could view without a cluster of visitors trying to do the same thing at the same thing. I agree the colored blocks could be taken out it distracts from the message that they are wanting to convey.

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