Dedication signage is a growing area of the signage industry as more and more organizations place importance on the experience of remembering our shared past. Dedication signage can be oriented around the significance of a specific site, the history of a community, the contributions of an individual to society or can take on the appearance of an outdoor, interpretive museum. Whatever the purpose, dedication signage is all about reconstructing the past and making it present and alive to people now.
Dedication plaques and signage which commemorate the significance of a specific site or honor a person who contributed to a certain community provide a permanent and lasting way to mark these important historical points of memory. These can be as simple as plaques on park benches or in front of a memorial tree which was planted to mark the occasion of commemoration. Or these sites can be more elaborate structures which memorialize multiple characters or widely-significant historical events.
The history of a community can also appear in dedication signage with a particular community group or institution being honoured for its impact on the lasting culture of that area. Groups such as community leagues, post-secondary institutions or other agencies may have been instrumental in developing a neighbourhood’s identity and that should not go unnoticed. Founding members or boards might be named in public spaces constructed for this explicit purpose, or plaques which offer identifying information about place significance to these groups might govern one’s navigation through an area.
Outdoor interpretive museums which are dedicated by municipal or even provincial authorities are another use for dedication signage. Places that are not readily obvious as being important for the community to remember can honour significant people, dedicate buildings or parks, and can create a lasting tribute through the creation of a multiple-plaque narrative that instructs visitors about these places and how to move through them. This shaping of the environment to be socially significant directly affects how people will use a space and the respect imparted to it. Reflection is often encouraged in these places and, as such, the act of remembering creates its own memories in turn. Invoking emotion or nostalgia are very real outcomes of well-designed dedication signs and areas.
There are a wide variety of materials that can be used to fill the purposes of dedication signage. Most often, bronze plaques seem to be the main choice for patrons because of their durability and the tone of legacy that this medium seems to impart. Modern dedication signage, particularly larger memorials, tend to combine a number of material elements and can also include imagery such as etchings, relief portraits and more.