Creating a Time Machine

Coloredge New York ● Los Angeles creates dino-themed graphics for the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.

Big Picture

Until about 65 million years ago, they were the biggest and baddest things on the planet. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth up to the time that an asteroid collision – or pick your natural catastrophe – caused their demise. But as anyone who has kids knows, dinosaurs live on in movies, picture books, TV shows, and more. In short, dinosaurs are cool.

To take advantage of that “coolness,” the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County opened its new Dinosaur Hall this past summer. Encompassing 14,000 square feet and spanning two separate galleries, the permanent exhibit serves as an impressive time machine of sorts, featuring more than 300 fossils and 20 full-scale articulated dinosaur skeletons, and rivaling the world’s leading dinosaur halls.

And while the dinosaur fossils and skeletons make a gargantuan first impression on visitors, the printed graphics – produced by Coloredge New York ● Los Angeles (in conjunction with Lexington Design + Fabrication) – are pretty overwhelming, too.

It was Lexington that sought out Coloredge to produce and install the graphics for this complex project. Coloredge’s John Gibson worked with Lexington as well as museum project manager Jennifer Morgan over a three month period “to ensure that all aspects of the graphic elements were impactful – and that they also met the technical requirements needed for being on display with fragile exhibit artifacts,” says Gibson.

For Coloredge the exhibit encompassed a variety of work that ranged from wallcoverings to floor graphics and more, including:

• Adorning the main exhibit hall, the majority of the graphics were wallcoverings produced onto on Ultraflex Wallscapes Matte wallpaper, output via a Durst Rho 500r roll-to-roll printer. The wallpaper material was double cut, allowing for a butt seam, as opposed to imaging adhesive-backed vinyl and overlapping the seams, says Gibson. The largest individual wallpaper graphic, depicting a massive Mamenchisaurus, measures 60-feet long x 20-feet high. Coloredge worked with Ace Wallcovering to install more than 5000 square feet of wallpaper material for this project.

• Graphics for the display cases were printed on Kodak matte photographic material using Coloredge's Océ Lightjet device at sizes up to 6 x 10 feet. These prints were wrapped around ½-inch MDF supplied by Lexington specifically for this project. The panels were specially treated so that they wouldn't “gas off” and damage the irreplaceable artifacts.
• A 12 x 12-foot floor graphic was created utilizing 3M Controltac 8660 material with 3647 Scotchcal overlam, producing a 3M FloorMinders graphic; output was executed on Coloredge’s EFI Vutek GS3200. After installation, the print was treated with a clear wax, allowing maintenance crews to more easily remove any future scuff marks.
• For the artifacts encased in glass, Coloredge turned to its prototyping division, Comp24. The Comp24 team utilized a special transfer process utilizing photo-sensitive inks and exposed film negatives, applying 5-color transfers to glass as large as 5 x 11 feet and up to ½-inch thick. An opacity layer was printed using the Vutek GS3200 onto Avery UltraClear SF103 polyester film – comprising a subtle CMYK color build at 80-percent opacity, double-strike ink, says Gibson. Using a wet-mount process, this opacity layer was then applied to the Comp24 transfers for added definition. Text was silkscreened by Sign-All in Los Angeles.

Says Gibson, “The project’s complexity was in the color matching of different materials printed on numerous devices, along with the tedious testing procedures that were employed to achieve the look and feel of the graphics in the exhibit. This was by far, one of the most challenging and fulfilling projects on which we have worked.”



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