Interpretive Writing for the Exhibition

Interpretive Writing for the Exhibition

Collectively, senior art history majors will select an exhibition title and co-write an introductory label. Individually, seniors will choose two artworks from the Flaten Art Museum collection and write interpretive object labels for each selected object. 

Title (1–7 words)

“The best titles will arouse interest and curiosity and give enough information to enable visitors to decide whether they are interested enough in the subject matter to enter.” (Serrell 32)

Introductory label (20-125 words) 

“Introductory labels set up the organization and tone of the exhibition. …it will help to prepare visitors for the size, sections, and themes of the space, even if it is a small exhibition.” (Serrell 32-33)

Object label (75-150 words)

Object labels (sometimes called didactics) should refer to the visible specifics of the object and must make sense independent of other labels. 

  • Start with visual, concrete information – what visitors can see. Work from the specific to the general, not the other way around. 
  • Make the vocabulary appropriate for a broad range of ages. 
  • Offer something for the expert, the enthusiast, and the first-time visitor. 
  • Take a complex subject and illuminate it in a way that will excite your visitor. 

Choose artworks based on your own interests, relevance and passion and art about which you can write an illuminating text. It is recommended you select something that will not become an exhaustive research project. The texts should be informative but not too dense. 

Read these label guidelines:
Kris Wetterlund, If You Can’t See It Don’t Say It
Beverly Serrell, Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach, 2nd ed., 2015

Exhibition Timeline

Formatting Text Panels