By Melissa Donovan
Museum signage is a great add-on service for any print service provider (PSP) looking to expand its offerings. The range of products that fit into this environment are vast, from directional to informational signage. Many times displays are temporary, which means a lot of repeat business as new exhibitions enter each space.
While some of today’s newest media introductions are a fit for museum signage—think floor graphics as a wayfinding method or soft signage for banners—tried-and-tested methods are commonly used. Printing to flexible media and then laminating for added protection is still popular.
While PSPs are encouraged to be savvy on the newest trends, it is also important to have a firm knowledge in traditional practices. This is something Northeast Digital Imaging, of Methuen, MA, has learned in its nearly ten years of existence. Many of its employees celebrate over 35 years in the print business and their experiences have shaped the type of work the company offers its customers.
With 12 employees, Northeast Digital works mainly with clients in the New England and New York areas but has also done jobs for businesses based in England and even Australia. In a 3,000 square foot shop, the PSP offers everything from decals, window graphics, and wall murals to trade show graphics, presentation boards, step-and-repeat banner stands, and backlit panels.
According to Joe Gannuscio, owner, Northeast Digital, decals and window graphics—specifically contour cut and with white ink—are popular with customers. In the last few years he also cites wall mural requests as growing significantly. For example, a local Italian restaurant chain regularly orders wall and window graphics for its multiple locations, in addition to menus and business cards.
Museum signage does not take up a large portion of the print provider’s work, but Gannuscio has a lot of prior experience dealing with applications placed in this environment. He’s created various pieces for the Museum of Science in Boston, MA, as well as the Essex Peabody Museum in Salem, MA.
Northeast Digital currently works directly with the JFK Library in Boston, The Museum of Fine Art in Boston, The Telephone Museum of Maine, and the historic areas of Fenway Park.
These types of graphics either involve stretcher canvas or Plexiglas panels with standoffs, sometimes wallcoverings are created as well. Materials used are from either Coveris Advanced Coatings’ Magic portfolio or for rigid substrates, 3A Composites USA’s range of products—Gatorfoam, Sintra, or Dibond.
Because of where the graphics are ultimately placed—at human interaction levels—lamination is used when necessary. Graphics are UV coated with a matte finish, to avoid glare from the lights shining on the exhibit. Canvas wrapped pieces are edge wrapped, to prevent passerby from picking at the prints.
Northeast Digital employs wide format printers from HP, Inc.—latex models, and Epson devices. The Epsons are generally used for any high-quality museum work, although Gannuscio admits that many of the signage buyers in museum culture find it challenging to accept anything that isn’t Océ Lightjet quality.
“However, high-quality inkjet printers are changing and it’s an education process when it comes to showing these buyers what digital can accomplish,” explains Gannuscio.
For any museum work it’s accomplished, Northeast Digital is not typically involved with the museum, requests may come in through advertising agencies and on the backend, install is generally handled by museum staff.
While museum signage isn’t a regular occurrence for the PSP, Gannuscio says the staff stays ready for any order that may come in with similar jobs used in different environments. For example, the Plexiglas panels with standoffs are also commonly found in lobbies and other areas where a museum-like quality is requested.
Another job printed with museum-like quality involved work for the Boston Red Sox. The PSP created photographic prints on its Epson printers and either framed or canvas wrapped the images depending on the location.
Ready for Anything
Despite not dealing with an influx of jobs directly from museums, Northeast Digital keeps fresh on all applications that might fit into this niche. From its work for the Boston Red Sox to Plexiglas signage in corporate lobbies, all of these types of products are ideal options when a museum comes calling. The PSP also stays current with the newest application trends from window graphics printed with white ink to wallcoverings. Its combination of traditional and new keeps Northeast Digital poised to conquer any job a customer may send its way.
Sep2016, Digital Output DOASM1609