• Transform magazine
  • November 14, 2018

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New wayfinding sets sail in Maritime Greenwich

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London’s National Maritime Museum is a place of heritage within the heritage sector. It resides in the former Royal Naval Asylum and comprises part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Maritime Greenwich. Its large collection is centred round an airy, skylit atrium.

However, because of the building’s structure, and the courtyard’s appeal, the museum saw most visitors meander through the big open space, the shop and cafe, and the ground floor galleries. With the opening of four new gallery spaces on the upper floors and following the introduction of a rebrand last year by Jane Wentworth Associates, a new wayfinding system has been implemented by CCD Design.

The wayfinding consultancy worked has unveiled a clean, elegant new system that incorporates the updated visual identity with a bit of maritime fun – without going overboard, so to speak.

Chris Girling, head of wayfinding at CCD says, “The complexity of the museum makes it very easy for visitors to miss out on many of the exhibitions as they do not venture beyond the ground floor; having two different entrances complicates the matter further. For this reason we’ve broken a number of rules to achieve a system that will give visitors a sense of purpose, understanding and motivation.”

Chris Girling, head of wayfinding at CCD says, “The complexity of the museum makes it very easy for visitors to miss out on many of the exhibitions as they do not venture beyond the ground floor; having two different entrances complicates the matter further. For this reason we’ve broken a number of rules to achieve a system that will give visitors a sense of purpose, understanding and motivation.”
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To combat those challenges, CCD created a zoning system in which each side of the central atrium is designated by its cardinal direction. The compass element visually ties into the maritime theme, while also acting as a quick, simple indicator that there is more to see throughout the site.

Museums typically approach wayfinding with a gentle brush, trying to gracefully integrate the signage into the architecture so as to avoid detracting from the collection. For the National Maritime Museum, the opposite has proved successful. CCD went big and bold, splashing gallery names and maritime icons across the building’s central space. The large-scale graphics grab the eye but their strict adherence to the existing brand and the maritime theme mean they are not intrusive to the visitor experience.

Lisa Leigh, head of marketing for Royal Museums Greenwich says, “Wayfinding and orientation play a vital role in ensuring our visitors have a positive experience. Our new galleries open up areas of the museum previously closed to the public, meaning visitors can move around the space in a way not possible before. Working with CCD, we’ve developed a new wayfinding scheme that will help people to explore our collections further and enjoy their visit even more.”

The smaller wayfinding panels placed around the museum implement the visual identity well using laser-cut graphics that can be updated if changes are necessary. The imagery and iconography used highlights aspects of the museum’s collection while also reflecting the maritime theme in an understated way. The whole system works together with the new gallery spaces and visual identity to open the museum up and encourage visitors to explore the entire collection.

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