Beverly Serrell and Katherine Whitney cover the essentials of the processes of exhibit label planning, writing, design, and production. In this third edition, Serrell’s classic guide to writing interpretive exhibit labels is updated to include new voices, current scholarship and the unique issues the museum field is grappling with in the 21st century. With high quality photographs and new sections, this edition is more accessible and easier to use for all museum professionals, from label writers to museum directors to exhibit designers.
Beverly Serrell has been an exhibition and evaluation consultant with art, history, natural history, and science museums, as well as zoos and aquariums. She was previously head of a museum education department for eight years, and worked as a high school science teacher and a research lab technician. Serrell holds an MA in science teaching in informal settings and a BS in biology. In 1995, she was a guest scholar at the J. Paul Getty Museum and has received two National Science Foundation grants to conduct research on visitor behavior in museum exhibitions. She has been a frequent museum visitor all her life.
Katherine Whitney is a museum consultant specializing in exhibit development and label writing. Her work has taken her into art, science, history and children’s museums, as well as zoos and aquariums. She is particularly interested in how families engage with museums and has written about her own family’s experiences. Whitney has an MA in Museum Studies and a BA in Art History.
PART I: INTRODUCTION
1. Guidelines and Essentials
PART II: OVERVIEW
2. Behind It All: The Big Idea
3. What Are Interpretive Labels?
4. Types of Labels in an Exhibition
5. The Importance of Captions
6. Label Systems
Photo Figures for Part IIxx
PART III: CONSIDERING THE AUDIENCE
7. Who Is The Audience?
8. Audience Segmentation
9. The Number of Words
10. Readability Issues
11. Multilingual Labels
12. The Labels Voice: Who's Talking to Me?
Photo Figures for Part III
PART IV: ENHANCING THE VISITOR EXPERIENCE
13. Improving Orientation
14. Being Visitor Friendly
15. Making Words and Images Work Together
16. Labels That Ask Questions
17. Labels for Interactive Exhibits
18. Digital Label Strategies
Photo Figures for Part IV
PART V: TASKS
19. Getting Started, and Getting Done
21. Typographic Considerations
22. Production Materials and Issues
23. Evaluation After Opening
Photo Figures for Part V
PART VI: VOICES FROM THE FIELD
PART VII: CONCLUSIONS
24. What Research Tells Us About Visitors
25. Essentials Takeaway
Photo Figure Index
In this third edition, Beverly Serrell and Katherine Whitney remind me of what’s important and challenge me to do better—with humor, humility, and references to the great work colleagues have done creating and evaluating exhibit interpretation. This book provides inspiration, examples and connections to other museum colleagues and organizations who have navigated similar interpretive labyrinths. I can’t imagine working without it by my side and on my team.
Real objects and phenomena are the great differential asset of the museographic language and what gives uniqueness to an exhibition. However, written language —properly used— is also an essential support for an exhibition with communicative capacity. This new edition consolidates the relevance of a completely essential book in this aspect.
This latest edition of Exhibit Labels serves as the perfect antidote to those who claim, “Nobody reads the labels!” Serrell and Whitney, through wonderful illustrated examples and pithy, actionable tips, inspire everyone who works for, or with, museums to craft labels that everyone will want to read!