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Food History Exhibits

Guide for students in the CIA's Food History class working on creating an exhibit for the Tober Exhibit Room.

About Interpretive Labels

"Interpretive labels tell stories; they are narratives, not lists of facts. Any label that serves to explain, guide, question, inform, or provoke—in a way that invites participation by the reader—is interpretive.

"The purpose of interpretive labels is to contribute to the overall visitor experience in a positive, enlightening, provocative, and meaningful way. Interpretive labels address visitors’ unspoken concerns: What’s in it for me? Why should I care? How will knowing this improve my life? If labels only identify objects, animals, or artwork, they are not interpretive. […] Interpretive labels are part of interpretive exhibitions, which are displays that intend to tell stories, contrast points of view, present challenging issues, or strive to change people’s attitudes."

Tips:
- Labels should emphasize interpretation (offering provocation) over instruction (presenting information).
- Labels should relate to the big idea of the exhibit, not ramble without focus or objectives or contain sub-sub-subtopics.

from Serrell, Beverly. Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach. 2nd ed. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

Label - Main Narrative

This label is the main narrative for YOUR section.  Be sure to give it a title and to put a border around it (see examples) to set it apart from your other labels.

Tips:*
- Do not cram several ideas into one paragraph. Divide up the sentences into logical chunks.
- Break up ideas into paragraphs to make the reading easier for visitors.

Format:

Title (Georgia 16 Bold)
[insert line break]
Narrative text in paragraph format.

See example for details on border.

* from Serrell, Beverly. Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach. 2nd ed. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

 

Labels - Artifacts and Menus

Use this fomatting for all artifacts and ephemera (menus, pamphlets, etc.) labels.

Tips:
- Labels should begin with concrete, visual references to the objects they interpret to bring them to life.
- Do not try to make generalizations in captions based on a single object or example.

Format:

Title (Georgia 16 Bold) (include type of material)
Date (Georgia 16) (if known)
Location (Georgia 16) (if known)
[Line break]
Interpretive Text (Georgia 16)

Source (Georgia 14)
Source is the collection from which the artifact was borrowed for the exhibit (i.e. CIA Menu Collection; Professor Willa Zhen, etc.)

 

Labels - Images

Use images to be illustrative and to add a visual component to your section; use images to connect the visual to your ideas/content/text. Information on printing images is found in the RESOURCES section.

Title (Georgia 16 Bold)
Date (Georgia 16) (if known)
Location (Georgia 16) (if known)
[Line break]
Interpretive Text (Georgia 16)

Source (Georgia 14)

Source is the collection: a photo of a museum object from the louvre – source is Louvre, Paris, France;  a photograph from the Library of Congress website – source is Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; as a last resort, a picture found on a website – source is Name of website.com

For artwork - Include artist name, if known.  Include medium, if known.

Labels - Quotations

Tips:*
- Use quotations to advance the narrative and to add voice to the exhibition.

At least Georgia 16; Print larger, if desired, or if taping on back mirror. Be sure to include attribution (smaller font size is OK for attribution)

“You must do the things you think you cannot do.”
― Eleanor Roosevelt

* from Serrell, Beverly. Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach. 2nd ed. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.

Labels - Other

Use this formatting for labels not fitting any of the above categories. These will usually (but not always) be your section labels.

Tips:*
- Give each label a relevant title.
- Make sure paragraph titles are informative.
- Do not cram several ideas into one paragraph. Divide up the sentences into logical chunks.
- Keep the paragraphs short.
- Labels should know their audience and address visitors’ questions.
- Labels should be written with a vocabulary that is within reach of the majority of visitors.
- Labels should be short and concise, more like a tweet than a tome.

 

Title (Georgia 16 Bold)

Interpretive Text (Georgia 16)

 

* from Serrell, Beverly. Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach. 2nd ed. New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.


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