We have spent the last few weeks of Museums Studies class going through everyone’s exhibit labels, sentence by sentence, and editing. It is amazing how much time we have spent editing 200 word paragraphs! We easily spend at least an hour on each. Why 200 words? From experience visiting museums, we all agreed (and I think most people reading this article would concur) that if an exhibit label is too long, we will skim it at best but most often skip over the label all together. There are studies to prove this, saying that when exhibit labels are over 200 words visitors start to skim. So if we want our visitors to fully grasp the meaning of each label, we need to pick our words wisely and keep it short and sweet. Thus, we have spent a comically long amount of time this semester analyzing the difference between “institution”, “college”, and “university” and debating whether the word tense should be “strive”, “striven”, or “strove”.
This week our task is to read through our labels sequentially and assess them as a coherent whole. This is especially important since each label was written independently and we need to make sure they make sense as a whole. This includes reading for flow from object to object, appropriate tone, and clear themes. This will probably take us more time than the two hours we have allotted for class this week but the results should be worth the extra out-of-class time.