It is currently Fri Apr 19, 2019 4:39 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Are Your Signs/Labels Too Complicated?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:15 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 9137
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
An appeal for museums to simplify their identifying signage away from technical descriptions:

https://advisor.museumsandheritage.com/ ... inclusive/

We can be especially guilty of what's highlighted in this article.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Are Your Signs/Labels Too Complicated?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 3:45 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 338
I really like the style of signs that are used at Henry Ford and Greenfield Village. The title is at the top, and at the bottom is the technical info in one sentence (example “This replica was constructed at Greenfiled Village in 1933.” And in between is the story which gives more detail on the items history and importance.

I’ve seen signs that focus on technical info that are well written and should be understandable by most visitors. I’ve also seen signs that are “fun” that are confusing and leave out all basic details like when something was built or if it’s an original or replica.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Are Your Signs/Labels Too Complicated?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:03 pm 

Joined: Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:13 am
Posts: 39
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
I’ve also seen signs that are “fun” that are confusing and leave out all basic details like when something was built or if it’s an original or replica.


I hate museum signs that try to be funny. Were they written by the journalism student doing an internship?


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Are Your Signs/Labels Too Complicated?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 11:46 pm 

Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 3:04 pm
Posts: 103
Location: San Jose, CA
Nearly 20 years ago, I was asked by my museum mentor to write a concise label for a new exhibit. A short time later, I proudly returned with text. After quickly reading my text, my mentor responded with, "now eliminate 60% the number of words you used."

Label writing is an art form.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Are Your Signs/Labels Too Complicated?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 3:55 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:40 pm
Posts: 203
Location: San Francisco, CA
Folks,
I think some very well done signs are the Kevin signs at the Illinois Railway Museum at Union, IL.

Take a look at the picutures on their roster pages to get a look at many of them. A good amount of history on each of the various cars.

Ted Miles, IRM Member


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Are Your Signs/Labels Too Complicated?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:11 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 338
Agreed! The IRM signs are an excellent example. I also like how all of the equipment has the same style of sign and the same layout so if you are in a hurry to get through a barn cause you couldn’t help yourself from riding trains and trolleys all day (can you tell I’m speaking from experience?) you can at least quickly glance at the builder date, builder, etc.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Are Your Signs/Labels Too Complicated?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 4:18 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 02, 2013 3:33 pm
Posts: 17
Arguably the most important aspect of display/interpretive signage is making the artifact/equipment/item relatable to the average person. Show the importance of this tangible item by evoking a link (emotion) with the viewer. Make the message concise and still sprinkle in vital facts. Most larger interpretive signs are crafted using the following formula: 3-30-3. Provide something to be gained by viewers who are willing to spend 3 seconds, 30 seconds or 3 minutes at your sign. Headlines are 3 seconds, 30 second sub-text messages are for the more-casual reader and a 3-minute message is for those still interested after the first two.

-Tim Martin


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Are Your Signs/Labels Too Complicated?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 08, 2019 5:13 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 5:47 pm
Posts: 8
An excellent resource for label writing is Exhibit Labels by Beverly Serrell. Another bit of required reading for anyone doing any sort of interpretation is Interpretation—Making a Difference on Purpose by Sam H. Ham.

I write a lot of labels and aim to write for the interested, but non-railfan, adult. When writing about a vehicle (rail or otherwise), I include a Fast Facts box with the tech specs: length, weight, diesel engine type or boiler pressure, horsepower, top speed, etc.

I also spend a lot of time doing in-person interpretation programs and tours, and find that the visitors who engage most with me and the labels fall into one of the following categories:

- Visitors with knowledge of similar non-railroad technology, i.e. stationary industrial boilers. They want to compare steam locomotives to the boilers they know (or whatever the parallel is)

- Visitors who are interested in trains but don't know much about them. They do not describe themselves as railfans but describe going out of their way to ride trains on vacation and may have family who worked for the railroad

- Visitors with no railroad knowledge but plenty of curiosity. These people often preface conversations with "This is probably a stupid question, but..." and then ask extremely smart, insightful questions

There is a happy medium between writing an encyclopedia and dumbing everything down. I keep my labels as an introduction to the topic rather than trying to be the last word. Adding more words for people to read "if they're interested" tends to scare off potential readers.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Are Your Signs/Labels Too Complicated?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:29 pm 

Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:40 pm
Posts: 203
Location: San Francisco, CA
Taylor,
I do Car Barn tours at the Western Railway Museum. I do not flood my visitors with numbers, but have them if they want more.

I live in San francisco and am always amazed by the people who say that today's ride at our museum is their first train ride.

I am quite convinced that the only stupid question is the one which is not asked.

Ted Miles, WRM Volunteer


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Are Your Signs/Labels Too Complicated?
PostPosted: Thu Feb 14, 2019 4:27 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 338
I think sometimes we can jump to blanket statements that are really no more than opinion based on our personal observations.

"Are your signs / labels too complicated?" - I think museums should absolutely have attractive, easy to read, and informative signage. But the person answering the question shouldn't be one long-time member who says "these signs have been here for 50 years and they should stay the way they are!" And also the person answering the question shouldn't be some 20 year old who took a marketing class saying "these signs are old fashioned and aren't relevant to the younger generations we are trying to attract!"

If you really want to know... ask the tour guides / museum staff that work there everyday. Do visitors ask a particular question over and over because the sign is unclear? Do visitors ask for information that is not on the sign? Or do visitors typically read the sign and make comments like "that's really interesting, I didn't know diesel locomotives were built that long ago" etc.

It always irritates me how museums will bring in "consultants" with a fancy marketing degree to tell them how to improve things but then never ask the volunteers / employees who are there everyday that hear the guests questions and comments.

Also... does your museum have a printed roster for sale? I always buy a roster / history book and have some great ones from Nevada State, Colorado State, etc. Also... does your website have a place for further information on your equipment?


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 10 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Exabot [Bot], Google [Bot] and 50 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: