Money is always tight, but a good artifact display does not have to break the bank or bust your budget! We work with many museums, nature centers, and interpretive sites whose budgets are often lean. Simply put, they need to get the most “bang for their buck” when they display their artifacts. We understand this intimately, and we offer them strategic advice gained from our many years in the industry. Without further ado, here are our top tips and tricks for creating dynamic artifact displays when your budget is small!
What type of case should I get?
We recommend acrylic or glass cases, and even something from Ikea will work. There are many good quality cases that are not too expensive. Additional tip – having adjustable shelves is helpful too, and it gives you more flexibility in the types of artifacts that you can display.
What type of backer/background?
We recommend foam core, and Elmer’s brand from a hobby or craft store works well. Just ensure that it’s acid free! And don’t forget to use a sharp knife when cutting it. Also, to ensure a smooth edge, make sure to not rush the cut.
What type of acrylic mounts?
My favorite is Art Display Essentials. Cost doesn’t always mean quality, and Art Display Essentials uses archival grade acrylic for inexpensive prices. Having a surplus of small acrylic mounts can really make an exhibit artifact display “pop.” You can change heights, angles, etc., to make the display more dramatic and draw the viewer directly in.
What type of fabric?
We recommend that you wrap the backer in fabric to add a flat background. Black works well to make your artifacts really “pop,” and white or unbleached fabric disappears in to the background to give your artifacts all of the attention. Almost anything 100% cotton will work: buckram, flannel, muslin, jersey, unbleached print cloth. Shoot for something in a light or medium weight.
Should I use pins?
Yes! Pins are great to mount small, light objects onto the backer board. You can bend them to the dimensions that you require, and use as few or as many as needed. Benchmark is my preferred source for stainless steel pins, as they also sell coordinating drill bits.
What protective covers should I use for pins?
Use this heat shrink tubing from University Products to protect your artifacts from harm!
What should I use for artifact labels?
Artifact labels do not have to be expensive! Print something out on your own printer (be sure that you have enough ink!), and mount with Spray 77 onto your leftover foam core to give it a rigid support. Voila! Inexpensive, but durable and versatile artifact labels for your new artifact display!