A computer-rendered image of the Smithsonian Castle is the centerpiece of a coloful new wall mural at the main entrance to OCIO's offices in Herndon, Virginia. A recent collaboration between the Office of Exhibits Central (OEC) and the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), the design consists of a 4' x 8' silhouette of the Castle made up of small "0's" and "1's" representing binary computer code, which is mounted to the entryway wall. Beneath the Castle are two rows of images of the many Smithsonian buildings, emphasizing the fact that OCIO works with all of the museums and bureaus of the Institution.
The production of the Castle silhouette was an especially interesting part of the project. "The "0's" and "1's" were computer-cut into a very large piece of pressure-sensitive vinyl in the Graphics Shop at OEC. All of the vinyl surrounding the characters was then removed, leaving only the "0's" and "1's" on the vinyl's backing sheet, in the shape of the Castle. A large piece of release-tape, which was the same size as the backing sheet and coated with strong adhesive, was pressed onto the "0's" and "1's", which transferred the adhesive from the tape onto the backs of the characters. This sandwich--comprised of release-tape, vinyl, and backing sheet--was then delivered to OCIO for installation.
Design drawing for the entrance exhibit for the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO)
In order to ensure that the Castle silhouette would be applied to a smooth surface, OEC's painter, Walter Skinner, first primed and painted the entryway wall at OCIO. Next, OEC's Graphics Specialists, Rolando Mayen and Theresa Keefe--who designed the exhibit--carefully applied the vinyl. They temporarily hinged the backing sheet to the wall exactly where they wanted the Castle silhouette to be positioned. They removed the protective layer on the release-tape, which exposed the adhesive that had been transferred to the backs of the characters, and firmly pressed the "0's" and "1's" onto the wall to ensure that the characters were securely mounted. Lastly, they removed the backing sheet, revealing the silhouette.
Once that was completed, Mayen and Keefe installed the two rows of images of the Smithsonian buildings, each of which is face-mounted to a piece of Plexiglas. Finally, they applied the Smithsonian sunburst, and the name of the office in large vinyl letters, on the wall to the upper left of the Castle.
According to OEC's installation team, it was very exciting and gratifying to watch the two-dimensional design drawing come to life as it was being installed. The muted Castle silhouette is balanced by the vibrant images of the Institution's buildings, and the exhibit, itself, is a clear representation of the rich diversity that makes up the Smithsonian.