Welcome to the MOOSEUM

Most visitors to a museum come to experience the exhibits, have fun and learn something useful. They may shop in the gift shop, grab a bite to eat, hit the rest room, and snap some photos for their social media followers. 

Most people don’t think about how they got to all those locations. They simply glance at the way-finding signs and follow the directions on what to do and not to do when they get there. But at least one group has taken notice in a big way. 

Graphic Design USA was so enamored of the Academy’s exceptionally creative COVID-19 signage that it recently bestowed its American Graphic Design Award on the Academy and Senior Graphic Designer Stephanie Gleit.

The images in this post show four of the many animal-themed signs, placards and floor stickers Gleit designed and helped install in July, in time for the museum’s reopening four months after the pandemic first forced public facilities to close. They use humor, intelligence, fun and science learning to remind visitors to stay safe by following the protocols of social distancing, face coverings and hand sanitizing. 

We asked Stephanie about her creative process and you may have more questions to add in the Comments section at the end of the post. 

What do you do in your job? 

My job entails creating graphics to communicate with our visitors regarding the general building and also to communicate science. I act as a liaison of sorts between the Academy and the visitors.  

How did you get the idea to create signs with whimsy in these dark times? 

It’s hard to go through this world being bombarded with the negative: COVID-19, economically, politically and socially. We are an interesting museum with important messages and beautiful objects. I wanted the messaging to speak from who we are, and so I got the idea to use our iconic diorama animals to speak for us. 

Was it particularly challenging to come up with this idea or did it just pop into your head? 

Ideas happen in an instant. It’s a matter of going through lots of ideas that are good and bad and finding the great one. My creative process usually entails a lot of thinking for a long time to synthesize all the messaging and get to the essence of what it should be or how to say something. I had been thinking of how to approach these signs and planning them for a long time, but I don’t know exactly when this specific idea came into my head!  

Which one is your favorite COVID-19 sign? 

I have two favorites: the “Welcome back to the Mooseum” and the one for the staff for the back of house elevators where there’s an animal in each corner of the sign mimicking how we should stand in the elevator at maximum capacity. 

What’s the favorite part of your job as graphic designer? 

My favorite part is being able to effectively communicate an idea between scientist and visitor and then watching the visitors as they absorb the information and respond to what I’ve created.  

What’s been the reaction from museum visitors? 

Honestly, I’m not sure because I’m working from home. 

By Carolyn Belardo

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