Museum Displays

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Museum Displays

Eric Argus
Eric Argus

June 25th, 2007, 6:44 pm #1

Hello All
I am looking to put labels on some, if not most, of the items in my museum and was wondering if anyone had an opinion as to what would be useful information - it seems kind of redundant to put "Fullerphone Mk IV*" on a tag when it says that on the fieldphone itself. All ideas and comments are welcome - thanks
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Michael Dorosh
Michael Dorosh

June 25th, 2007, 7:05 pm #2


It is never redundant to remind people of the actual name that was used; most kit had official names and commonly used names. The Car, 1/4 ton, utility was more commonly a Jeep or Blitzbuggy, for example, or the Rocket Launcher, M1 was a Bazooka. If the Fullerphone was actually known as such, even if it is stamped in plain view, it doesn't hurt to put it on a label for consistency if nothing else.

You might, though, want to explain where the name comes from. Why "Fullerphone"?

People are more concerned with what it actually did, I think. Dates of use are of interest, and capabilities (range, no. of operators, etc.)
Last edited by dorosh on June 25th, 2007, 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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John Maybin
John Maybin

June 25th, 2007, 7:15 pm #3

Hello All
I am looking to put labels on some, if not most, of the items in my museum and was wondering if anyone had an opinion as to what would be useful information - it seems kind of redundant to put "Fullerphone Mk IV*" on a tag when it says that on the fieldphone itself. All ideas and comments are welcome - thanks
Museum labels are an art. Museum visitors can generally be divided among groups that spend a split second looking at a label to those that want more details. A good idea is to have the first line give the "what and when" and a separate paragraph for the details. If you have massive blocks of text, most people won't spend the time to read it.
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Keith Matthews
Keith Matthews

June 26th, 2007, 8:26 am #4

I agree with John that writing museum labels is an art. You need to decide what you want to say about the item, who you are aiming at and what they will need to understand. Trying to write something for everyone is a nightmare.

An old technique which works is to use ABC texts - A being the headline which grabs attention and says what the thing is (you can then decide if you want to go further or not). B lets the casual visitor know a bit about it without being tedious. C is the 'so you want to know more' text. this technique is directly analagous to how newspapers work.

A big point you seem to have already grasped is that you have the real thing. Don't be tempted to write an exhaustive history - the object should be displayed so the interpretation supports it, if you take away the text, the object should still attract attention. The reverse, taking away the object still leaves an interesting booklet on the wall, is a mistake (you could be selling them that booklet!).

There are very good Canadian, UK and US web resources for writing museum interpretive texts. Contact me via our website and I would be more than happy to help

Keith Matthews
Curator of Military History
York Museums Trust
York Castle Museum
UK
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Ken Joyce
Ken Joyce

June 26th, 2007, 2:04 pm #5

I agree that museum labels are an art. I do think it is important to keep the labels as precise and short as possible. Your ABC plan works good.

What I find in many museums, which has been covered on this forum before, is the lack of attention given to museum collections. Many museums hire people mainly on their museum training or their degree in some history. Specifically for military museums, many people who look after these collections know very little about them. In many cases there does not seem to be a desire to know. It's a job and that's it.

While good labels are important, I also think that museums should have people looking after their collections who are capable of researching the collection. Staff looking after collections should spend some of their time researching artifacts so that more in-depth articles can be written on each artifact. This can begin with the museums most prominent and important items. This information can be copied into pamphlets and made available to the public or it can be made available online. This not only helps to keep labels short and precise but it also lets people know about artifacts in the collection that may not be on display. At the same time, it helps to educate the staff so they are more knowledgeable about what they were hired to represent.

The problem is, many people working in museums will always use the excuse that they have no time. This can be a legitimate problem however from personal experience I have learned that in many cases this is a simple lack of interest in their own collection and a lack of desire to do the work.

There are many hidden treasures out there. Not only in our national institutions but also in our small town museums, base museums etc. etc.

I even think it would be a good idea for every museum to have a basic inventory list that can be made available to the public. This would help researchers while at the same time allowing the tax payer to see what they are investing in. It also provides a record to donors.


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Eric Argus
Eric Argus

June 26th, 2007, 4:09 pm #6

Thank you all for the assistance. There are some very good ideas put forward here which I will attempt to incorporate into my displays. I have been lucky enough on my last move to the Ottawa area to buy a house with a large workshop which I am converting into display space. It won't be a public museum as such, but I will be more than willing to show it off to people that hear about it and want to see.
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Dwayne Hordij
Dwayne Hordij

June 26th, 2007, 6:44 pm #7

........and probably 1/3 of the message board groupies. Ottawa has a very active and large group of collectors here including....

Ed Storey
Roger Lucy
Gary Boegel
Paul Harrison
John Cameron
Cliff Weirmeir
Doug Townend
Colin Schlachta
Clive Law
Joe Costello

To name a few.........Ed Storey alone has more sq footage dedicated to militaria than the war museum.
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Doug Townend
Doug Townend

June 27th, 2007, 12:13 am #8

Thank you all for the assistance. There are some very good ideas put forward here which I will attempt to incorporate into my displays. I have been lucky enough on my last move to the Ottawa area to buy a house with a large workshop which I am converting into display space. It won't be a public museum as such, but I will be more than willing to show it off to people that hear about it and want to see.
Hi,

What is your area of collecting?

DT.
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Paul Harrison
Paul Harrison

June 27th, 2007, 1:10 am #9

Thank you all for the assistance. There are some very good ideas put forward here which I will attempt to incorporate into my displays. I have been lucky enough on my last move to the Ottawa area to buy a house with a large workshop which I am converting into display space. It won't be a public museum as such, but I will be more than willing to show it off to people that hear about it and want to see.
Eric, I'm posted this summer from Ottawa, but I can say that I've had nothing but good experiences with all of the guys Dwayne listed, as well as a bunch of other guys here in Ottawa. If you get a chance, try out the ByTown Military Collectors Club, it meets first Wed night every month at the Cartier Drill Hall in Ottawa. Excellant contacts, beer is always cold, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to network while in Ottawa. Everyone of the guys has offered me a hand on anything I asked. Just a good bunch of guys.
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RussBenneweis
RussBenneweis

June 29th, 2007, 12:05 am #10

Paul: Where have you been posted? Out west?
Russ
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