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A thought or two on curved reader rails

10 Jan 2010

National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
The Sant Ocean Hall

(I’ve written other posts about the NMNH, here and here.)

I recently worked on some curved reader rails and I feel for anyone who has to design them: they involve advanced geometric wizardry that will make your head spin. (Or not… but really, they are tricky.)

The photo above, from the Ocean Hall at the NMNH, is of a compound curve—yikes—curved and angled. The photo is interesting—what’s wrong? Or is what looks “wrong” to me an optical illusion? It almost looks like “Meet Phoenix” is about to slide right off the rail, like the graphics were not laid-out correctly for the curve. (But how cute is that whale illustration?)

Below, from the same exhibit, is another curved rail. It’s simpler, being flat, and it works: just two lines of text, set on a baseline curved to the radius of the rail.


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