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Museum Labels

June 26 2007 at 8:04 AM
Ken Joyce 

Response to ABC texts

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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