Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Another Visit With The Exhibit Doctor: Don't Touch The Walls!

In our continuing "Exhibit Doctor" feature, here's a common problem that ExhibiTricks reader Mary Anna Murphy raised:

This isn't a very knotty problem, but I've run across it again and again in installing 2d works in a non-traditional gallery setting such as a mall, an office that worships its walls, or even the Russell Senate Office building rotunda.  None of those places have walls that want nails or hangers.  I'd be interested in seeing how other folks have managed to make their displays.  Oh, and it always has to be low budget.

Ian Simmons from the Centre for Life in the UK puts in a vote for Velcro:

We have the same problem as Mary Anne in some of the places where I need to hang 2D stuff, and I swear by industrial grade Velcro, which avoids having to make holes for anything. This can keep up an amazing weight of stuff pretty securely, depending on how much you use, but it does need the venue to be relatively sanguine about any paintwork as it will take paint with it when peeled sometimes, but if they are cool about having someone just come round to do a touch up it works really well. It has to be proper Velcro brand Velcro though, none of the knock-offs are anywhere near as good.
Thanks, Ian!  (You can find "industrial strength" Velcro at Amazon, amongst other suppliers.)

For a different approach,  Dana and Kathy Dawes from ExhibitShop shared some of their work from the Palouse Discovery Science Center (PDSC) in Pullman, Washington (pictured below.)

While we haven’t come up with anything particularly elegant, we’ve come up with two solutions to hanging 2D displays in the parts of our local science center that has concrete walls.  One is to use GridWall panels connected into three-sided prisms, “X” or “H” shapes, or zigzag walls.  We’ve been able to get these from industrial/commercial liquidation sales for very reasonable prices.  We like them in our space because they are not visually intrusive; the downside is that some people don’t care for the industrial look.  

The other solution is to use door slabs connected together to create temporary walls.  We can get hollow-core, primed hardboard door slabs made up in sizes from 1-6 x 6-0 to 4-0 x 8-0 and the prices are very reasonable.  Our favorite way to assemble them is with bed-rail hangers mortised into the edges of the doors.  If necessary, we’ve finished the exposed edges with tee-molding or stained/varnished wood.  To make them easier to assemble, we have routed slots in the bottoms as well and use a t-shaped wall brace to align the bottoms of the panels. 

Nice work! Thanks for sharing Dana and Kathy.

Hopefully those ideas will help Mary Anna (and other museum/exhibit/design folks) break through some institutional "walls" (at least design-wise!)

Have some of your own "off the wall" design ideas to share on this topic?  Let us know in the "Comments" section below.  Also feel free to pose your own question or design challenge to The Exhibit Doctor below as well.  Lastly, don't forget to check out previous Exhibit Doctor posts.

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