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FDR Library and Museum, part 4: the Great Depression

25 Jun 2013


The first gallery you enter sets the stage for FDR’s presidency: the Great Depression. The focal point here is the neon-illuminated “FEAR” wall. Text is silkscreened onto the glass panels and rear-illuminated with LED pads. The red colorization comes from the custom “UMEMPLOYED” neon letters; the mural image in the back is black and white.


The FEAR letters are applied to the rear of the glass. I wanted them to be translucent—to allow the mural image to show through and create depth—and as richly black as possible. The fabricators, Explus, provided a variety of production samples to try to achieve the effect I was after. Printing the letters on a transparent film and applying it to the glass, in particular, was unacceptable as I wanted a uniform transparency (no streaks, no dots). In the end they used Rosco gel sheets.

They created a self-adhesive vinyl by applying OptiClear to the face of the gel sheet (Rosco Cinegel Neutral Density N.9 Gel Extra Wide) then die cutting it. I was happy, but the fabricators had some difficulty with cutting and applying the gel sheets. Their graphics manager told me that if they were to do something like this again they’d use a standard window tint that has the application adhesive already on it. But I do love how that gel turned out!

The sample:


The wall opposite the FEAR wall:


The background mural is printed on DreamScape, as I mentioned in a previous post. Most of the murals in this museum were applied to backers, framed, and cleat-hung to the wall, but this particular one was applied directly to the wall and its edges captured with flat aluminum strips. I don’t remember why we did this, but I’m certain there was a reason….

The framed graphics are digital prints with an overlaminate, mounted to sign blank. They are applied onsite to an MDF backer panel and aluminum frame. (The backer and frame are screwed to the exhibit wall; the graphic is applied with VHB tape.) Explus welded the frames’ corners before painting them, and that made a huge difference in the appearance of them. They looked more finished and high-quality.


One Comment leave one →
  1. 15 Mar 2017 6:54 am

    I’ve always had a soft spot for neon lighting. Looks amazing, really captures the 30’s era. Great job.

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