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  • Writer's pictureAli Beckett

How long does an interpretation panel last?

If your panel has been printed on a good quality material then it will last for years and years. What will date is the content of the panel.

Over the last 20 years the design and content of interpretation panels has dramatically changed. If you see panels that were put in a number of years ago, they will often have dense paragraphs of text. Illustrations may be old-fashioned and photographs of low quality.

So rather than the actual panel wearing out, it is the design and content that will need re-looking at after 10 or so years. Is it time to refresh your interpretation panels?

If you are re-doing a panel then consider how the information can be freshened up. It may be that the facts haven’t changed but are people still being attracted to your panel?

Try to look at it with fresh eyes. Think about the information you still want to convey.

Perhaps it could be displayed in a better way. For example:

  • A history panel with lots of text could be reworked as a timeline.

  • Wildlife panels could feature photos with just some key text as captions.

  • Walking maps could now include distances in kms. Addresses or access points could incorporate What3Words.

  • New online information could be linked using QR codes or enhance the panel using virtual reality information via an app such as Zappar.

When putting in a new panel also diary a review of the panel for 8-10 years time. It often takes a while to get funding and group agreements to update a panel so it best to start before the panel is looking too dated.

How to prevent your panel from dating too quickly

Be aware of using time-related terms such as ‘recently’, ‘new’, ‘shortly’. People reading your panel after a few years won’t be aware of interested that it was installed as part of a ‘new’ project.

Check your photos carefully, cars or fashions or hairstyles can date a panel quickly.

Get your panel printed on the best material available. We recommend NovaDura which has excellent colour reproduction and is guaranteed for 10 years against fading.

Place your panel out of direct sunlight to prevent fading but also away from trees that will make it damp and mildewed.

Clean your panel regularly. A dirty panel looks old very quickly!

Dense text, although interesting, made this panel hard to read

The panel was reworked as a timeline, making good use of images and edited text

For advice and information on interpretation panels see or call Ali Beckett today on 07530 956184.

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