Musem Posters

(Part 4/Style/Audiences/Museum posters)

Exercise – Musem Posters

I had several problems getting started with this exercise. We don’t really have museum in Settle apart from an historic building called the Folly. Whilst it is interesting it does not have ‘artefacts’. So I decided to take a train to Lancaster and visit the Castle. This was a fascinating visit and extremely interesting with regard to the building and its previous uses.
However, this was not a museum with ‘artefacts’ either!.
I then chose more carefully and decided on the Dales Folk Museum in Grassington and devoted another half day visit to going there. It is run entirely by volunteers and although it was advertised on-line as open, the day I went the volunteers had not turned up so it was closed.
Finally, I drove over to Lancashire and went to the Pendle Heritage Centre in Barrowford near Colne. This was the next nearest museum. (I had by then assumed Skipton Castle would not have artefacts).
The Pendle Heritage Centre has some artefacts but not many. However, there were enough for this exercise. This museum specialises in local domestic architecture using the museum building itself as the exemplar, the history of the Bannister Family (Ribble Valley branch) who came over at the Norman conquest, and the Story of the famous Pendle Witches.

I was able to find an artefact from each of the designated categories for the 3 different age groups.

Lighting was poor and flash not encouraged, but I did manage to take a few pictures.

The dolls or puppets ( photos below) portray the characters in the notorious story of the Pendle Witches and the betrayal of her whole family by a nine year old girl.

I thought these would be of interest to younger children then decided they are not that well displayed as to be interesting. I therefore decided the witches broom, the like of which they will have seen on Harry Potter, would probably be a better signifier. It is a denotation of witches for young children.

There is a room devoted to the history of the Bannisters – a very prominent family in the area.
Having had a good look around the museum and taken a few photos, I planned my posters in my head while having a cup of tea.

1 I selected The Pendle Witches for the younger children and will centre the poster on a witches’ broomstick.
2 I chose the history of the building, The Story of a Lancashire Farmhouse, in particular the reconstructed C17th kitchen, for the older children, concentrating on the multiple uses of the cauldron.
3 I thought the History of the local Bannister Family would be of interest to adults, especially older people who will remember the first four-minute mile. There is a sculpted head of Roger Bannister and a portrait along with a whole display about his ancestors.

I think some kind of ‘corporate’ identity for the 3 different posters will be appropriate. I have been giving the idea some thought and as people identify with other people, that would be a good way to attract the attention of different age groups. Whilst I may decide to draw the artefact on each poster, perhaps a photo in the background of the relevant age group wll unite them.

Above; Items from the kitchen and the information boards with them.


Some puppet-like dolls depicting the Pendle Witches – the group of women from one
village who were taken to Lancaster Castle and condemned as witches.

Witches’ broomsticks are a  good way to attract the attention of different age groups.

Whilst I may decide to draw the artefact on each poster, perhaps a photo in the background of the relevant age group wll unite  them.






I think it will be appropriate to include the museum’s logo to the poster, apart from that I cannot detect a particular ‘house style’ which might be required.

In the interest of simplicity and readability, I will include only minimal text. Opening times etc can be obtained from the museum website so inclusion of that would be advisable.

Denotation needs to be clear without any obscurity, irony or ‘clever’ graphic rhetoric. This is a straightforward information poster requiring interest, balance, clarity (above all), with the simplest of visual grammar. Whilst audience interaction is aimed at 3 separate groups, the design literacy needs to have a corporate identity with universal appeal.

For some coherence I want the backgrounds to the posters to be the same but different. I would like a mass or crowd of children/ teenagers/adults behind the words and pictures. I do not have any just like I visualise in my archives so I will try to find some free on-line images for this job.

A horn beaker

A chest

Use of fuel in the C17th

Examples of the few artefacts which were on display


The family Bannister Archive is in its own area in the museum and should be of  interest to thegeneral adult population with particular reference to Roger Bannister, the famous runner.

In the interest of keeping everything clear and simple and recognisable at a distance I have drawn out these three sketches as the main attraction on each poster. I will introduce colour in the background and try to get some coherence in the background style so the posters are a recognisable ‘set’.

These are some  random pictures and cartoons which are free to download.

I am not sure they are exactly what I want but I will see if I can make them fit.

I can certainly use them in a representative way for the client visuals.

I am inclined to use the cartoons rather than the photos.

This is the first draft of the three posters. They are more or less how I intended in style but there are several aspects with which I am not happy.

The idea of the faces of the target group behind the main drawing, is good but the only one where it works well is the middle one where the faces are bigger. Also I am not sure I am happy about the lettering. I have used this font because it is the one used in the Heritage Centre letterhead and logo. I don’t like to mix fonts unless it is for special effect.

I have tried enlarging the background image (below).This is definitely an improvement. The layout is good, simple and well-balanced but I still dont like the font on the purple one.

I accidentally changed the font on the green one and much prefer that. There is only the purple one to change. However, I don’t think the text on any of them stands out enough. I have spent a very long time getting the layout of the text as I want it to be so that the main black line sketch and the text have equal  importance.

I am going to try another outline colour, I think that might be the answer. (See below).

This is better. I have corrected the spelling error (!) and I have kept within the same overall palette for the outlines so they hang together.

These, above, are the finished client visuals for the three posters. I have now prepared a hand-drawn background for one of them to complete the finished

I decided I like the children background for the cauldron. It has a nice balance of space and mass with the white/greens. The white spaces also create
interesting shapes on the cauldron itself. I am therefore going to take that grouping of teenage children and create one like it of adults in the
mustard yellow colour.

Finally, I have to decide on the level of transparency for the background as I want the balance to be right.
Each layer is important although the background does not need to be clear from a distance but the text does.

The completed poster is shown below.

I do not have time to redraw a background for the broom poster for young children but it would be the same grouping but depicting the infant school age group.

The finished poster is at A3 and has been printed out for assessment if required.

I am pleased with the text I have added to the artefacts, I think it is pithy and  encourages further investigation. There is humour in the teenage one, double-entendre in the cryptic adult one and the poster for the young children suggests a story which is always welcome.

There are only essential details on the poster so I have added the website for the museum so opening times, location etc can be checked by anyone interested in visiting.