When I wandered around the Brookside Park in Pasadena during my little getaway to LA couple weeks ago, I discovered the Kidspace Children’s Museum and its interesting signage system.
The museum was hidden within the largest park of Pasadena surrounded by abundant woods and large sport courts. Without knowing the museum exists inside the Park, I walked down a quiet sidewalk and saw the first hint — a sculpture featuring two life-sized, silhouetted kids playing with a big blue ball. The big “k” logo captured my eyes with its scale and high color contrast with the silhouettes. The rotating angle of the bright ball and the gestures and facial expression of the kids made this two-dimensional sign very lively.
As a designer, I knew it was just the beginning of my discovery.
Looking around, about 100 feet down a path I saw a small entrance to the museum. At a glance, the entrance almost seemed too modest for a play place for children. I only saw a fraction of the white building; the remaining was blocked by trees. The entrance sign was simply a large, flat white panel sitting at the bottom of the building, the “ball” as a recognizable graphic element from the sign I’d seen up the path became a red half-sphere that popped out on the panel.
As I puzzled about the modesty of the entrance, I discovered the real entry way — the dazzling Kaleidoscope Tunnel. Bright red, blue, orange, pink, and gold circles and mirrors glittered all over the walls and ceiling of this entry. The contrast brought me to think that I suddenly entered a time tunnel, one that immediately brings you back to childhood fantasy. The other side of the tunnel revealed the interior of the museum — a contemporary architecture filled with natural light and open spac, another big visual contrast. Cool.
The legend of the signage system continued throughout the museum: every major sign was a big color circle either held up or sat on by a curious, happy silhouetted child. As vivid as the signs were, the diverse gestures of the kids kept my eyes entertained, the bold colors and simple type gave the expected (but fun!) look and feel.
The idea to have kids present their space to the audience echoes the museum’s mission to provide an environment that inspires children’s learning though self-directed and interactive experience.
Having seen a lot of the multicolor over-sized letter signs on children museums, this system is quite refreshing.