I'm trying to find the correct naming for these things in the image:

enter image description here

It's the things that surround the exhibits in a museum, and sometimes they delimit a walking area to guide visitors along. I'm mostly interested when they define a route to follow.

I'm thinking about red ribbons but I could only find an image with chains ('cause I don't know by what name to search them :D).

What's the whole ensemble called?

  • With "define a route to follow", do you refer more to (reconfigurable) arrangements such as in airport ceck-in queues? Sep 14, 2019 at 12:08
  • @HagenvonEitzen: that could be an example, yes.
    – Pips
    Sep 16, 2019 at 9:44

4 Answers 4


A barrier to surround and protect something is called a cordon. They can also be used to direct people to a destination. (As in an airport queue or amusement park crowd management.)

Similarly the verb to cordon off means to enclose something with a barrier.

They're often made of velvet with hooks that allow them to be detached and reattached, hence the term velvet rope. This style is most frequently used in theaters and nightclubs. When something is felt to be exclusive or mysterious it's said to be:

Behind the velvet rope.

The posts used to hold up the cordon are called stanchions.

enter image description here

  • What about when they define a route, and not just blocking an entrance?
    – Pips
    Sep 13, 2019 at 16:34
  • @Pips They're still cordons. They direct you by blocking access.
    – David M
    Sep 13, 2019 at 17:03
  • This doesn't include the posts, so it's not the whole setup.
    – user353675
    Sep 13, 2019 at 17:12
  • @user47014 The posts are called stanchions. And, the whole thing is called a cordon. The rope portion is the part which the whole item takes its name from.
    – David M
    Sep 13, 2019 at 17:14
  • @David M Do you have a reference showing cordon is the whole thing? Because I see it defined as just the part that is stretched.
    – user353675
    Sep 13, 2019 at 17:16

"Queue bollards" or "rope bollards" also come to mind. They can be used for the purpose of directing pedestrian foot traffic, controlling crowds and managing queues.

enter image description here


chiefly British: any of a series of short posts set at intervals to delimit an area (such as a traffic island) or to exclude vehicles.

Therefore, "queue bollards" or "rope bollards" are bollards with an ornamental cord or ribbon (cordon) that can be attached to or detached from them.

  • To clarify, AmE dictionaries conventionally define “bollard” in the narrow sense of a short post on a quay or the deck of a ship for attaching a ship's rope. But the sense of short, thick posts along a road to restrict access is in common use; see, for example, “City Will Place 1,500 Bollards to Counter Vehicle Attacks” (NY Times 20180102).
    – djs
    Sep 14, 2019 at 6:28

They can be sold just as "Museum barriers".

"Use this ____ Museum Barrier with Dual Retractable Cords to queue and direct visitors through your exhibit space or encourage visitors to keep their distance from valuable artifacts. The two 7-foot elastic cords fully retract into the 39" high stanchion. This freestanding barrier's lower cord is 19.75" off the floor, making it ADA compliant. Add a freestanding receiver barrier or wall terminator (both sold separately) to end a line of barriers."


There is also "Exhibition barrier systems" to surround single artifacts.

  • Maybe some think people who are in the business of making these things don't know what they are called?
    – user353675
    Sep 13, 2019 at 16:50

They are called stanchions. This can refer to just the column, or a set of column and whichever material is used to connect them such as chains or velvet ropes.

In event management a stanchion is an upright bar or post that includes retractable belts, velvet ropes, or plastic chains, sometimes in conjunction with wall-mounted barrier devices, barricades, and printed signage [...]

  • 3
    Stanchions are the columns only. Not the ropes.
    – David M
    Sep 13, 2019 at 16:22
  • The first line of my linked wikipedia page disagrees with you.
    – JRodge01
    Sep 13, 2019 at 16:28
  • 2
    I agree with @DavidM. And the first line of your linked Wikipedia page does not disagree with David but disagrees with you, JRodge. It, in fact, does agree with David. It says, "A stanchion (/ˈstæntʃən/) is a sturdy upright fixture that provides support for some other object." The other object would be something like a chain or a velvet rope, as it goes on to explain. While the term "velvet rope" can be construed as a barrier, a "stanchion," a singular pole that would hold a velvet rope, certainly would not. Sep 13, 2019 at 16:42
  • @JRodge01 I had a look; the first line that comes up on my phone refers only to the upright. It might help for you to quote the relevant portion and include that in your answer.
    – Lawrence
    Sep 13, 2019 at 16:42
  • Added the appropriate line.
    – JRodge01
    Sep 13, 2019 at 16:52

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