Signage, Relevancy and Interpretation

Thursday, July 14 2016 Written by
Industrial sites and parks challenge the notions of what a park should look like. They are not as green and lush as we are used to and they are often over taken by fields of pavement. Likewise, the Charlestown Navy Yard is overwhelmed in pavement diverging the site from looking like our accepted notions of national parks. To relieve the diverging notions I have been working on an analysis of the signage throughout the park the minute I arrived. To improve the visitor experience I documented some of the common areas where visitors may get lost and have questions about what to see next. Although much of the signage at the Navy Yard is temporary my supervisor, Ruth and I were able to order new signs that are water resistant and include more information. Earlier this week I was able put together some new wind masters and add some more signage throughout the yard that will guide visitors more effectively. Amidst working on new signage I was also able to work on designing some posters for fences along the construction area on the site. We can all agree that construction sites are intrusive and unappealing especially at a tourist area, so I began working with the Naval detachment and the archivist at the yard to gather some information for visitors to browse through. Along some of the fencing we decided to include information about the USS Constitution's restoration that is occurring in dry dock 1. It is the ships restoration that has caused all the mayhem and fencing, but historically this is not the first restoration the ship has undergone. Its restoration process is a living history of the processes that keep our history alive. The ship is over a hundred years old and maintaining it afloat has been a separate history all on its own so we decided to document it. As soon as the signs were printed and hung, visitors swarmed around them ! It was really exciting to see that the signs were in fact serving their purpose and no longer was the construction site atmosphere vague and intrusive, it would now be part of the Navy Yard's living history. The signage throughout the Navy Yard made me feel useful and I was able to get instant gratification as I observed visitors referencing them for directions and information from my office but, none of the signs solved the issues that the park has of being inclusive and diverse. All of the signs were in english and none made the site feel more inclusive to non-traditional audiences. It seems that relevancy to all Americans is still missing throughout Boston parks. As I continue working an a proposal for an increase in outreach to underrepresented communities it becomes more apparent that outreach is a lot easier said than done.
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