V&A Museum wayfinding signage improves the visitor experience
Reade Signs won a competitive tender to manufacture and install the wayfinding signage for the entire scheme throughout the iconic V&A building.
The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art and design, with a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects. The building exterior and interior are both Grade 1* listed. Being in the public domain, the signage solution had to be robust enough to deal with the high footfall. We worked in collaboration with award-winning brand and design consultants, dn&co, and wayfinding consultants, allpointswest to install 400 directional signs.
This immensely complicated site has 12 miles of corridors and 145 galleries. Only two of the ground floor lifts go to the top floor, making navigation tricky. Most visitors were reaching the 2nd floor but not venturing above that. We worked with wayfinding consultants – allpointswest – and designers – dn&co – to create the signs for a new, effective wayfinding strategy that incorporated the large amount of information needed on each sign and invited visitors to explore the entire museum.
We manufactured and installed over 400 directional signs made from Valchromat – a type of MDF. This material was selected because it’s uniquely dyed all the way through and cuts very well. The signs were then faced with beautiful tulipwood veneers, which were dyed black. Tulipwood is pinkish yellowish wood and the veneer meant it was light and strong. This makes it a perfect choice for quality signage that will stand the test of time, while also being recyclable. The hanging gallery signs had to be very light, due to the physical constraints of the building, so we used a unique material called Banova plywood.
Our installation team faced the challenges of working around the Museum and its security requirements. Many of the exhibits have strict security protocols due to their rarity and value, so we needed to ensure these galleries were open and lights on to carry out this work overnight and prevent any interruptions to the visitor experience. We delivered beautifully made signs and installed them in challenging circumstances. The design we worked to was visually very simple, which potentially exposes a manufacturer as there is ’nowhere to hide’. We had to ensure every angle, every corner and every shadow gap was spot-on, or it would have been very noticeable.
Client Testimonial: Philippa Simpson Director of Design Estate and FuturePlan