wayfinding for the merl

In this exercise the aim was to understand how people navigate through physical environments, and how to help them in the process. The Museum of English Rural Life (merl) was the object for this wayfinding study.

Research stage began with visits and reviews of museums' wayfinding systems, which led to the analysis of the merl: its collection, physical space, audience, activities and current wayfinding solutions.

The contrast between the museum’s vast collection and its rather compact storage and exhibition areas, often results in cluttered environments with too much information to absorb. Although it is easy to move around in the exhibition area, the impressive collection on display constantly makes one wonder where to go next, what to prioritise, how items and thematic areas connect throughout the exhibition.

Considering spatial and budget constraints, content scope, and visitor’s needs, the project focused on the development of design parameters that reviewed the exhibition’s organising principle and proposed a more rational use of space. An attempt to improve the visitor’s experience by bringing in visual order and a more controlled display of information.

Mock-up illustrating the use of a thematic sign.

Mock-up illustrating the use of a sub-theme sign.

The welcome board is a free-standing sign, using stanchions to support a metal panel.

Mock-up illustrating the use of a directional sign.

A sample of the signage system according to proposed sign height standards.


Reviewing wayfinding systems in other museums.

Analysing MERL's wayfinding and organising principle.

Trying eliminate a few gaps and hierarchy inconsistencies, the new organising principle focused on materials and respective craftsmanship, tools, and products.

Original floorplan and a new proposal with partition walls.

Partition walls supported the creation of thematic areas based on the new organising principles, and a clear visitation route.

Mapping viewing distances and sign types in exhibition space.

Best practices that served to further detail parameters for sign positioning: max reading distance, optimal heights, and focus areas.

Mapping sign types according to desired viewing distances and height. This diagram helped defining ideal type sizes for each sign type.

Vesta Ad Bold. Good legibility and branding asset.

Signage specs. [1]

Signage specs. [2]

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