Monday, January 21, 2008

AnodizedArt for exhibit graphics

AnodizedArt (also known as AluImage) anodized aluminum graphics are a great alternative to typical phenolic or vinyl graphics.

AnodizedArt is a high-resolution graphic image embedded in aluminum. Graphics can be printed as large as 3' x 3' and larger murals can be tiled together. Like phenolic, it's grease, scuff, wind, sand, graffiti, and UV resistant but the color is more vibrant and the cost is more affordable. 

Another great product is Aluminarte. Recommended for indoor applications, this product is even more affordable than the anodized graphics and can be printed on a variety of substrates including aluminum, steel, wood, and plastic. Unlike the AnodizedArt, Aluminarte can print white and with a high gloss finish looks very much like porcelain.

The best part about choosing this product was working with the staff at AnodizedArt. President, Douglas Funderburk was a pleasure to work with and always follows up to make sure that you are satisfied. So if you want graphics that will outlast vinyl without the high expense and faded look of phenolic then I would recommend giving AnodizedArt or Aluminarte a try.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Palm Beach Zoo

During a recent trip to Florida, I went with some family members, including my 6-year-old cousin, 3-year-old niece, and my 18-month-old nephew, to the Palm Beach Zoo. I've visited many zoos before and also worked at the Bronx Zoo for several years, which I think has turned me into a bit of a "zoo snob."  Very rarely do I see something that I haven't seen before. So when I walked into the little Palm Beach Zoo I was not expecting to see one of ten white alligators known to exist in the entire world.

On loan from the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, "Mardi" is a snow-white, blue-eyed alligator measuring 9 feet in length and weighing over 230 pounds. There was a sign on the back wall that explained all of this but unfortunately, it was located in a spot where no one noticed it. Visitors were too preoccupied with staring at a creature they never even knew existed to think to look behind them for the animal ID. So the Palm Beach Zoo was filled with misinformed visitors who think they saw an "albino alligator" when they had not. 

I don't mean to single out the Palm Beach Zoo because a lot of zoos and museums have poorly placed signage but they have a rare and beautiful creature on exhibit and are not doing it justice. Many of the animals at this zoo didn't even have identification. My young companions wanted to know the name of every animal we saw but the interpretive signage was severely lacking. So please, (and I'm begging all zoos, aquariums and museums) put your identification labels where people can find them. 

Even if visitors go to this zoo expecting to see an albino alligator I don't think anyone will be disappointed at what they find. If you happen to be in the Palm Beach area Mardi is definitely worth taking a trip to the zoo.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

After working in Children's Museums for many years, I've learned that there are a few things that an exhibit tech/maintainer cannot live without. Things like Velcro, double-sided tape, sand paper, cable ties, etc... I think it would be hard to find a children's museum with an exhibit shop that doesn't have these items stockpiled in large quantities. There's also the necessary cleaning products such as adhesive removers, stain lifters, gum removers....I've tried them all and they each do their assigned duty but not without a lot of frustration and elbow grease.

Then along came a product that changed my life forever. The days of scrubbing crayon and mystery goo left behind by little sticky fingers were over because my eyes had been opened to the wonders of the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. If I could only have one cleaning product to clean and entire Children's Museum after a day with 5,000 visitors in attendance, this would be all I would need. It removes stains that you never even realized were there. 

The only problem is that once you use it to clean a surface, a clean spot is left behind and you have to clean all of the surrounding areas that you never even realized were dirty until the Magic Eraser came along! Also, there's no indication on the box of what chemical ingredients this product is made out of except for "magic" so I would use caution when cleaning areas that a toddler's mouth might come in contact with.

I love making hands-on exhibits but along with that comes, well...dirty hands. This is a great product that makes the sometimes, daunting job of maintaining exhibits much easier.