For museums and galleries housed in protected historic buildings, the temporary banners and wayfinding signage used for individual shows can add that vital dash of colour and graphic experimentation to their offer, argues Emily Pacey
For a hungry culture vulture in a strange town, there are few more delicious sights than a museum banner strung from a classical portico, blowing stiffly in the breeze. These eye-catching splashes of often superior design tell you that behind the Ionic columns lies a treasure trove of fascinating artefacts, classy purchasables and maybe even a slice of Peyton and Byrne cake.
The popularity of exterior banners among museums and galleries springs largely from the fact that many cultural institutions are housed in historic buildings for which planning rules do not allow permanent signage. 'This is common among arts venues, but nevertheless, some planning rules can be very extreme,' says Cog Design creative director Michael Smith, citing the case of Blackheath Conservatoire of Music & the Arts, where even temporary signage on the building is prohibited by planning rules. 'The building simply has a notice board that we have branded up, but other than that it is a matter of giving very clear directions,' says Smith, less than half joking.
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