10 of the most creative face masks at museums and heritage attractions
As government rules require face masks again in indoor museums, galleries and heritage sites until the New Year, the reusable mask is becoming a staple.
Seizing the opportunity, many gift shops have launched their own branded face masks as a quick win for those who can put them on physical and virtual shelves.
In addition to protecting the most forgetful visitors, they also allow the proudest regulars to show their support during their day.
When hoping to entice visitors to literally put their money where their mouth is, good design is essential. It can turn a must-have accessory face mask into a conversation piece, disguise, or stocking filler.
And, as the end of the era of face masks draws further and further away, museums may now consider launching their own mask designs.
To inspire you, here are some of the most ingenious face masks from museums to UK museum gift shops.
Oxygen mask – RAF Museum
1. The RAF oxygen mask – Royal Air Force Museum
Featuring a design modeled after the WWII RAF pilot’s “D-type” oxygen mask, this mask is perfect for visitors who want to play the pilot for the day while remaining historically accurate.
The Royal Air Force Museum explains: “The Type D oxygen mask was introduced in the 1930s and was made of green Melton wool with a chamois lining. It is this type of mask that was worn by pilots and crews during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. “
Available at the RAF Museum Shop
‘Acts not words’ mask – The Museum of London
2. “Actions, not words” – The Museum of London
Use your mask as a sign with this museum of London design. The design features the motto “Deeds Not Words”, visible on placards, posters and pins and used by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) to help secure women’s suffrage.
Available at the London Museum Shop
Museum of History of Science
3. E = mc2 – Museum of the History of Science
Perhaps the most famous equation in history, and forever synonymous with its creator, this History of Science Museum design takes inspiration from Einstein’s well-worn chalkboard and allows its wearer to show support for the museum while alluding to his own superior intelligence.
Available through the Ashmolean online store
Rosetta Stone Mask – The British Museum
4. The Rosetta Stone – The British Museum
While it is always more difficult to communicate through a mask, the design of the British Museum is inspired by its most famous language exhibition. Inspired by the engravings on the Rosetta Stone and exclusive to the British Museum, this design is perfect for regular visitors, linguists and polyglots.
Available through the British Museum’s online store
Commander’s Mask – The Tank Museum
5. Tank Commander Helmet – The Tank Museum
Visitors to the Tank Museum will no doubt have imagined themselves at the helm of gigantic vehicles, and communicating with the rest of the squadron over the din of engines is impossible with the appropriate microphone. The Tank Museum – winner of the 2021 Museum + Heritage Awards ‘Store of the Year’ – doesn’t disappoint, with a mask replicating that necessary headgear.
Available via The Tank Museum online store
Knight’s Helmet Mask – Historic Scotland
6. Knight’s Helmet – Historic Scotland
Undoubtedly inspired by the protection that face masks offer to yourself and others, the design of the Historic Scotland knight’s helmet simulates an extra layer of protection against swords and arrows. Exclusive to Historic Scotland, this design harkens back to the armor of Scotland’s past.
Available through the Historic Scotland online store
Vagina Conception Mask – The Vagina Museum
7. Vagina mask – The vagina museum
One of three models offered by the museum, this mask embodies the unwavering attitude of the vagina museum to anatomy. The museum says, “Just because you cover your face doesn’t mean you have to cover your vulva love!”
Available via the Vagina Museum online store
Freudian sofa design – Freud Museum London
8. Freudian sofa design – Freud Museum London
Freud would surely have something to say about the above mask! At first glance, this next mask appears to sport a simple design, but the pattern is actually based on the famous psychoanalysts Qashqa’i rug, which was draped over his patient’s couch. A design that only true Frued fans would recognize.
Available via the Freud Museum online store
Tube Map – London Transport Museum
9. Underground map – London Transport Museum
Featuring the iconic tube map design, the London Transport Museum face mask will not only show your love for the museum and the tube, but could help tourists orient themselves in a snap. While no longer available, special mention must be given to its carpet mask designs, which are reminiscent of the worn fabric designs that cover the seat of the tube.
Available through the London Transport Museum online store
Squirrel mask for children – TATE
10. Squirrel mask for children – TATE
Designed exclusively for TATE by author and children’s illustrator Alice Melvin, this squirrel-based design is aimed at young visitors, allowing them to dress up in costume and celebrate British wildlife.
Available via the TATE online store
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