Activity: Write a Museum Label

Activity: Write a Museum Label - Body

If you’ve ever been to a museum, you may know that beside each object is a sign called a “label.” Writing a label is an art form in and of itself. There are whole books written about how to write labels, and writers work very hard to craft just the right words to captivate the reader. When they write, they have to make decisions about which of the object’s contexts to focus on. Will they talk about the artistic qualities? The style or period in which it was painted? Those decisions are important because they affect the way people perceive an object and the way people understand history and art.

Here are some tips for writing a museum label:

  • Always address what people see when they look at the object. "What am I looking at?" is one of the first questions people have. Use your common sense; people don't have to be told facts that are obvious at first glance either.
  • The second question the reader might have is "Why should I care about this?" Write in a way that makes readers interested or makes them feel that they have a personal connection to the art or object.
  • Use language that is easy to read. Don't make sentences too long.
  • As a label writer, it is your hardest job to figure out which of the object's contexts is most compelling or important. Which information should you include and which information should you exclude?