Unlike signs and other forms of commercial advertising, museum exhibit graphics serve various functions beyond simple promotion and must work on multiple levels to be effective… They support the purpose of the exhibit, communicate its message, create an environment consistent with the subject and draw people in to take a closer look.
Take, for instance, two wall murals San Francisco-based The Blow Up Lab printed for the Contemporary Jewish Museum’s summer exhibition of Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories, which runs through Sept. 6 at the museum.
One mural is a reproduction of a pattern that would serve as a wallpaper-like background, while the other is an 8 ft. x 12 ft. reproduction of a photograph taken of Stein in the 1930s. The Blow Up Lab was responsible for not just simply reproducing images, but ensuring that they coalesced and conformed with the exhibit to create a cohesive whole.
“With the photo reproduction, Gertrude Stein was in the center with the door behind her. Off to the right, from the viewer’s perspective, the image faded out and was very distracting. We spent some time working on the detail and where we couldn’t get details where it was blown out, we cloned in details,” explains Frank McGrath, owner of The Blow Up Lab. “We basically reconstructed the picture. We lightened the center and did a vignette in that area so that your eye would not be distracted to the side, but focused on the subject. The original photo was somewhere in the 2 MB range and it was a grayscale image, so we brought the resolution up in Genuine Fractals so that the print was as sharp as possible.”
Both murals were printed on LexJet Velvet WallPro SUV on The Blow Up Lab’s 72-inch Roland SOLJET low-solvent printer. The wallpaper mural was a different story. The image was in the multi-gigabyte range and spliced it into six sections. Each section was printed separately on WallPro and installed as a 9 ft. x 20 ft. background.
“The museum was very happy with the material. It’s low glare, totally scratch resistant, and was easy for our professional paper hangers to install. The color spectrum we’re able to get out of the combination of the WallPro and our printer is fantastic,” adds McGrath.