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Lincoln, looking good

30 Dec 2009

I hadn’t intended to see the Lincoln exhibit at the New-York Historical Society. It so happened that as I was on my way to the American Museum of Natural History, planning to first stop by the Extreme Mammals exhibit before joining the SEGD tour, I became distracted by the banners hanging from every single lamppost along Central Park West.
Lincoln and New York…Lincoln and New York…Lincoln and New York…

I decided I needed to check it out—those banners were like a siren’s call for me!—and sadly, I never made it to Extreme Mammals, which closes January 3. But no matter. (It’ll come to Boston, I’m sure…) Lincoln and New York is an excellent exhibit, designed by NYHS’s in-house design department. Walking in, I was greeted by these bold dimensional letters:

They look great, don’t you think? I like the exhibit’s slab/sans font mix, and I thought the use of saturated colors for area introductions was nice—it made the walls pop in the low lighting. My one critique about the area introductions: I thought the text was too large for the space, and line length too long. Reading them was slightly uncomfortable for me. (Okay, the other critique would be the exhibit’s almost exclusive use of vinyl, but you knew I’d say that, right?)

Other than that…I was pleasantly surprised by the contemporary design of the exhibit. The designers, Julia Zaccone and Angela Voulanges, made a smart move by incorporating stylish—trendy, really, but good for them—elements like silhouettes and dingbats. Why do historical topics always have to be presented in the same sepia-tinted way? I liked this fresher approach.

Also compelling were the wall structures and layouts. Below are some dramatically angled walls and black and white quotation “banners.” Nice work all around.

The exhibit’s up through March 25, so New Yorkers: you have three months’ time to see it for yourself!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 04 Jan 2010 2:19 pm

    Hi and thanks for your Lincoln review! The exhibit was created by the N-YHS in-house Exhibitions department with me as (outside) creative consultant and graphic designer. It’s not that often that designers get “professional” feedback and I, personally, appreciate the considered comments.

    The logo in its conception was fairly easy, in its 3-D rendering, it really stumped me– too big? too small? It was getting installed in an area where a brand new renovation was just being completed so lighting was never really able to be controlled, either. So until it got on the wall I had to just “believe.”

    I agree with you re: vinyl– I pushed for at least partial silkscreening (all smaller text panels and the large years on the intros). Unfortunately, it was a matter of cost and timing: vinyl–> fast.

  2. 04 Jan 2010 11:50 pm

    Thanks for clarifying your involvement, Angela; I thought you were part of the N-YHS in-house team. :)

    The photo I took of the logo doesn’t show its scale, but I thought it was just right—big enough to make an impact while still being comfortable on the wall.

    Congratulations on a lovely exhibit. It was my first time to N-YHS, and now that I’m in the know I look forward to seeing future exhibits!

  3. 12 Jan 2010 5:05 pm

    This looks so beautiful & fresh. The type and use of colors is incredibly dynamic…hope I can check it out soon.

    Angela also is the author of one my favorite new books:

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