Museums Victoria COVID Signage
- Museums Victoria Design Studio
Towards the end of Melbourne’s first lockdown during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, Museums Victoria had two weeks to prepare their venues for re-opening to the public. An entirely new parallel system to the existing signage was required to fulfil a number of COVID-specific requirements. These signs needed to welcome back, reassure, and provide up-to-date information to the public. It was also important that they clearly and concisely provide guidance and instructions to visitors. Finally, they needed to assist museum staff with ticketing, contact tracing, crowd control, and way finding.
A uniform system was implemented across Museums Victoria’s five venues to provide consistency in messaging, assist in recognition, and to support efficient deployment. It was important that the signage have a ‘museum voice’ that communicated in a positive, engaging way. The design references brand elements such as typography and colour, with the addition of a strong diagonal motif, reminiscent of hazard signs. This approach ensured that the COVID signs integrated with the existing way finding, while also being highly visible to alert visitors without alarming them. Within children’s galleries, exhibition characters were used to aid communication to younger audiences.
The rapid deployment of effective COVID signage enabled Museum spaces to be made safe for the public to enjoy after their extended period of lockdown. Overall more than 1050 signs comprising 296 unique designs were produced for the project within a two week time frame. A commitment to sustainable design principles lead to the repurposing of existing signage infrastructure. A wide range of finishes and substrates were employed to ensure delivery of consistent messaging across all audience touch points; from external concrete surfaces, timber and carpeted floors, gallery walls, mirrored, plastic and glass surfaces, to more fragile, heritage spaces and surfaces.
This project was an exemplar of strong design leadership. Operating within, and as a response to a pandemic, with the associated complications of working remotely and the need to respond quickly to constantly changing parameters, the team delivered an outstanding communication solution to a complex situation. The resultant signage system, implemented across the organisation’s five venues, was impactful, cost effective, efficient, user centred, and on brand.
The design combined with the language employed is best described as ‘happily assertive’. A balance needed to be struck between welcoming and re-assuring whilst also communicating government guidelines and rules that visitors need to follow. A series of icons were created to guide and promote desired visitor behaviours. These icons serve as language-free reminders throughout museum spaces that provide a means of succinctly and effectively communicating to the museum’s linguistically diverse community. QR codes were used to support contact-less ticketing and tracking, as well as to provide links to more detailed information as required.