Oaxaca, Mexico. Museo de Felatelia de Oaxaca. OK, it's a STAMP museum. But almost a "perfect" museum, in terms of every criteria of museum design. It's the right size, too, with perfect pacing between active gallery and beautiful resting spaces. And it's a major accomplishment to make this content interesting (!) They focus on stamps through the art of writing, stamping, sending, exchanging...
It's a stretch to try to make postage stamps personal and interactive. Magnifying glasses and a world map in a little teaser room by the front door is a conversation starter. The greeter at the welcoming desk gives out a nicely designed booklet. The museum is free! The view of the first little patio is enticing because it's broken by the shapes of old mailboxes and hanging text panels.
Graphic design uses the dotted line in reference to the perfed stamp edge, without overdoing it. A small wall monitor and event bulletin board are discretely placed just past the desk, to the side. The first little patio has seating! Lockers! Bike rack! Espresso machine!
The 1st Gallery features an exhibition of Surrealist correspondence. Hooray! We are gratefully spared having to looking at stamps, all by themselves. The large window doubles as title entry from patio and back lighting for the translucent intro panel. The well designed wall rack has alternating handle heights and big angled wooden stops. Vitrines are perfect height and angle.
The (actual) archive is in an accessible vault, with amusing multilingual interactive text on the side doors. This is where the serious stamp devotee can explore for themselves. Wavey lines reference the postal cancellation pattern.
The view from each gallery section to each adjoining patio is alluring. The second patio is a breathtaking spot to write your own postcard.
A playful gravel transition leads to the 3rd, minimalist, open patio, a few steps down.
The second exhibition is woven or textile art postcards. Doors are slatted. Title treatment is created with thread and nails, the floor barriers are gravel or bold blue patterns
There is a slight ramp down to the last little patio, surrounded by last 2 galleries, a workshop space and staff office. There are 2 postage stamp "your face here" photo ops.
The third gallery is another exhibition of mail art, using a mix of stand off boxes, black frames and postcards mounted direct on the background imagery. Busy but appropriate.
At the back of this patio is the last, required "history of stamps" gallery, where the visitor can feel free to take it or leave it. The "Children's Club" workshop schedule uses blackboard for the monthly calendar, with liquid chalk and thick black foam panels for the bulletin board section.
It appears that the museum originates many of the projects for the galleries. Even their private staff office is inspiring...