Posters are essential for the promotion of any museum exhibition. Posters also provide museumgoers with a piece of memorabilia. A well-designed poster can be a work of art in itself and many people have posters framed for hanging in their homes or businesses. The best way to design a poster for printing is to use a computer program. Many programs can be used, from Microsoft Word, for simple, text-based designs, to Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe Photoshop, for extra imaging options. Posters can also be designed by hand with an original that is drawn or painted, then copied for printing. This can be done digitally or with printmaking techniques such as screen-printing. When designing your museum poster, there are a few basic steps to consider. All design decisions should be appropriate to the nature of the exhibition.
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Research and look at other examples of museum posters to help give you design ideas. Decide all of the information that needs to be included on the poster. Include the title of the exhibition, the dates, the name of the venue, location, museum hours and contact information. A synopsis or an enticing phrase regarding the exhibition can also be included, but keep them brief and simple. If it is an art exhibition, you may need to include the names of artists and curators. Include an image if you want to add a visual reference. Choose an image of a piece of art or artefact that is in the exhibition to show what visitors can expect to see.
Choose a size. Standard poster sizes are 18 inches by 24 inches, 24 inches by 36 inches and 27 inches by 39 inches. Museum posters can also be custom sized. Decide whether the orientation of your poster will be vertical or horizontal.
Select a background colour and a font colour. Choose colours that are not too similar so that the text is legible on top of the background. Use a background and text colours that will work well with any colours of chosen images.
Choose a font style for the text. Include the title of the exhibition so that it is prominent in the design. Make the font size of the title large in order to initially draw the eye to it. Placing the title at the top of the poster or creating a box around it will make it stand out. Create a hierarchy of text that describes all other pertinent information. Do not include non-essential information. Choose different styles of font for the title and subsequent information if you want to set them apart even more. All words should be visible from four feet away. If required, display names of sponsors, grantees or donors in small text at the bottom of the poster. This information does not need to be visible from four feet away. Also include the museum's logo.
The image can be placed so the text overlaps it or so that it does not touch the text. Putting the title above the image and the main points to the side or below the image is one option for separating text and image. Only put the image behind the text if it does not detract from the legibility. Be creative about how text and image interact. Strike an overall balance between text, image and negative (background) space.
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