Museum Exhibits: Roofing Nails, Improvised Mounts

Recently the museum opened Biodiversity, a new science studio highlighting the museum’s animal specimens.  With such a diverse cast of characters we needed an effective way to inform our guests of what they were looking at.  The answer was a tried-and-true numbering system.  The challenge we faced was how do we mount hexagonal numbers in a cost effective way?  We needed a wire like material with a broad mounting surface.  After some brainstorming we decided on roofing nails.


We went with roofing nails for a few reasons.  First, they have large heads which gave us a nice surface area to mount the numbers to.  Second, they’re really easy to bend.  Lastly, they’re quite inexpensive.

The process was pretty straight forward.

We clamped the nails down in a vice, resting them on scrap bar stock for a uniform height where the bend would be.

Then, using a piece of pipe we had lying around, bent the nails to a ninety degree angle.  The leverage created from the length of pipe made the bending a piece of cake.  We repeated this step a whole bunch of times.


Once we had all our nails bent we arranged them in foam blocks for mass priming and a coat of paint to match the exhibit space.

Next we marked the locations of where the heads would sit on the hexagons and attached them.

All that was left do was install them.

A simple solution and all told the mounts cost us under forty dollars.

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