The printers are rolling over at our fabrication unit, the Office of Exhibits Central (OEC), in Landover, MD. Out sliding are the final graphics for “The Way We Worked,” vibrant and fresh. Once just digital files, the designs are now becoming real. It’s happening.
As soon as the prints have dried and cooled, the graphics team at OEC overlays them with a protective laminate and the mounts them to our panels. The panels are one-inch wide, and their honeycomb, cardboard center makes them lightweight, less expensive to ship, and easy to assemble. When slotted together, the panels create free-standing “walls” adaptable to various kinds of exhibit spaces. We ordered the panels from our supplier, MBA, in Germany, who specifically made them for “The Way We Worked.” The width of the panels matches the graphics we’ve chosen, internal reinforcements support where we are attaching objects, and cutouts make room for our interactives. From order to arrival, the process lasts three months, and our panel-filled packages voyaged here by boat. Once they disembarked in D.C., Registrar Terri Cobb captained the rest of us MoMS crew in organizing the blank panels into their appropriate sections.
But there are plenty of other details that demand attention! Exhibit designer Alicia Jager is making last-minute changes to the text and images. Terri’s been ordering objects for display cases, and she receives so many shipments, you’d think every day was her birthday! But then (working with OEC’s design and fabrication shops) these objects need to measured, assigned an accession number, arranged for each case, and then fitted for an individualized mount.
Two, human-sized gears are going to protrude from the intro for “The Way We Worked.” ‘Sounds heavy, right? Nope. These foam cutouts have been shellacked with a hard coat and are deceptively lightweight. They will be sprayed with metallic paint—and metallic in more than just color: you will actually be able to stick a magnet to it. OEC’s fabrication shop created a few mock-ups to test what kind of brackets will best attach the gears to the panels. We’ve aligned every cog between OEC and MoMS, and the production for “The Way We Worked” is whirling ahead at full speed.
-- Alexandra Charleston, Museum on Main Street, Washington, DC