Home Run! The Babe Ruth Mural at National Portrait Gallery

It’s officially summer, and that means baseball. On June 24th, the National Portrait Gallery opened One Life: Babe Ruth. Our Graphics department created the mural seen at the entrance to the exhibit.

1-finished-mural
Babe awaits his visitors. Photograph: Caroline Chang

If there’s one thing that these blog posts show, it’s that each project has its own challenges. For this project, we needed to match the color of the mural to the color of a print the National Portrait Gallery had done in-house. It was printed on the same material, but used a different printer and different ink.

Different machines with different inks create, as you might imagine, different shades and intensities of colors. Mike Reed, a graphics specialist, tweaked the colors for individual test prints until he got the color exactly right.

Even black and white images use other colors of ink. Photograph: Mike Reed
Even black and white images use other colors of ink. Photograph: Mike Reed

After nearly two dozen small-scale test prints, Mike successfully recreated the color composition of the original image.

Mike's test prints show the incremental changes to the colors to achieve the exact match. Photograph: Caroline Chang
Mike’s test prints show the incremental changes he made to the colors. Photograph: Caroline Chang

Once the color levels were finalized, Mike printed the mural and a team from Smithsonian Exhibits installed it.

In our line of work, saying you started with a "blank canvas" is often literal. Photograph Caroline Chang
In our line of work, saying you started with a “blank canvas” is often literal. Photograph Caroline Chang

 

Smithsonian Exhibits graphics specialists Sharon Head, Mike Reed, and Evan Keeling work as a team to ensure a smooth and seamless installation. (Again, in our line of work, that's literal.) Photograph: Caroline Chang
Smithsonian Exhibits graphics specialists Sharon Head, Mike Reed, and Evan Keeling work as a team to ensure a smooth and seamless installation. (Again, in our line of work, that’s literal.) Photograph: Caroline Chang

 

Knocked it out of the park! Photograph: Caroline Chang
Knocked it out of the park! Photograph: Caroline Chang

You can visit One Life: Babe Ruth through May 21 of next year.