de Young Museum, SF: welcome, sort of

The de Young Museum in San Francisco is currently hosting a traveling Tut exhibition. We haven’t seen the exhibition, so we can’t comment on that. We were struck by one contrast, however. Here’s the de Young admissions and ticketing desk:

deyoung admissions desk

It’s pretty enough, with the windows and greenery behind it, but not exactly information-rich. Just taking it in at a glance, it’s unclear exactly where you’re supposed to stand, where you go if you’re a member instead of the general public, and what you pay.


Not far away in the same lobby is the temporary admissions desk that is dedicated to the Tut exhibition:

deyoung tut desk

It’s not as good on esthetics, but in terms of function, it’s much more direct and useful. It’s quite clear where you’re supposed to stand and what your various payment options are. The part of the desk that’s lower than the rest is set aside for will-call. Even the dark color seems more substantial and authoritative than the de Young desk’s beige color scheme. Not being back-lit by windows, it also appears more solid. Apparently, whoever put together the Tut show did some research on the semiotics of admissions desks.


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