Find your way!
Satellite navigation is here to stay. But Morris County is counting on old-fashioned signs to make tourists stay here longer.
“In an age of GPS, having touchable, physical wayfinding makes a statement that this place matters,” Leslie Bensley, executive director of the Morris County Tourism Bureau, said this week as informational kiosks were dedicated at the Morris Museum and the Washington’s Headquarters Museum.
They are among 19 kiosks being installed this fall at tourist venues across the county, a $150,000 project funded by the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism, the New Jersey Historic Trust, the Morris County Park Commission and the F. M. Kirby Foundation.
“For the first time, the F.M. Kirby Foundation has some direction,” joked S. Dillard Kirby at Wednesday’s brief ceremony outside the Morris Museum in Morris Township.
Kirby described the kiosks as “menus of the key cultural and historical treasures of Morris County. You can take an appetizer or two or a full course meal, and come back for dessert another day. They’re really the link that brings together this five-star county.”
The kiosks are part of a plan to replace signs from 1999 with 300 signs that are more stylish and more legible. Everything began with an $80,000 study in 2010. A $133,000 pilot program installed 22 signs and two kiosks in 2013. Bensley said she now seeks $1 million for new vehicular signs.
Tourism officials contend that visitors will stay here longer if they can navigate more easily. Repeat visits also could increase by as much as 30 percent, according to the tourism bureau.
Morris Tourism Executive Director Leslie Bensley welcomes guests to kiosk dedication at the Morris Museum. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
“I think they’ll help everyone find their way to places that matter,” Bensley said of the kiosks, designed by the Butler Sign Co. of Wayne. “Often people come to sites without any knowledge of the preponderance of recreational assets a stone’s throw away.”
“Having our presence at 18 other sites will give us tremendous exposure to drive traffic here,” saidLinda Moore, executive director of the Morris Museum. “And it helps us to be a good community partner.”
Approximately 100,000 people visit the museum annually, Moore said.
After unveiling the museum kiosk, officials drove about a minute down the Columbia Turnpike to repeat the exercise at the Ford Mansion / Washington’s Headquarters Museum in Morristown.
Here’s the tourism bureau list of 19 kiosks.
Kiosks Installed as of August 2015:
1. Ford Mansion-Washington Headquarters
2. Jockey Hollow
3. Macculloch Hall Historical Museum
4. Morris Museum
5. Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms
6. Acorn Hall
7. Mayo Performing Arts Center (replacing existing kiosk in pocket park 9/15 )
8. Morris County Library
Morris County Park Commission Kiosks — Installation Scheduled
9. Fosterfields Living Historical Farm
10. Central Park on the former Greystone campus
11. Cultural Center
12. Cooper Mill
13. Historic Speedwell
14. Frelinghuysen Arboretum
15. Willowwood Arboretum
16. Bamboo Brook
17. Seaton Hackney
18. Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center, Chatham
19. Tourne Park
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Wayfinding Phase I:
The Morris County Tourism Bureau installed a new Morris County Wayfinding Signage Program for the Morristown area in October 2013. The Pilot Area included 22 vehicular signs and two pedestrian kiosks which direct visitors and residents throughout four municipalities to distinctive recreational, cultural and historical attractions.
A Wayfinding System helps visitors understand and navigate a new area. When a visitor encounters the system with its unique branding, a positive first impression is formed and a “sense of place” is communicated. Driving visitation to the area destinations is a key goal for the MCTB.
The economic benefits of a Wayfinding Signage program are well documented. The signs direct visitors to places that provide local economic benefits, and when visitors can easily travel between points of interest their overall experience is improved. “Legible” cities are known to experience increased repeat visits to primary and secondary attractions by 30%.
Other local benefits identified include an increase in civic pride, reduction in confusing and distracting sign clutter, and a savings in gasoline with a reduction in idling and air pollution.
The Morris County Tourism Bureau is grateful to its partners in this endeavor: the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, Morris County, the Morris County Park Commission and the mayors, administrators and township engineers of Morristown, Morris Plains, the Township of Hanover and the Township of Morris. Further, the representatives of the attractions mentioned previously were also instrumental in designing the pilot signs and approving the locations so that the pilot project could go forward.
To learn more about the project and its future expansion, contact the Morris County Tourism Bureau at 973-631-5151.
Wayfinding Phase II:
By locating 18 new pedestrian kiosks at Morris County's most visited historical, cultural and recreational sites, with an updated Points of Interest Map, we have enhanced the visitor experience as well as help direct them to the treasures of our area.