Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Art Exhibit Labels
Though both types of labels serve similar purposes -- to inform patrons about the work on display, the style of the labels can very greatly. Ideally both museum and art labels should link back to the theme of the exhibit and support a general interpretation plan. Introductory, background, gallery overview, and individual work labels are all common art exhibit label types.
My history background urges me to fill labels with historical context and biographical type details. Cultural and historical context are still important in art labels but so are references to artistic style, technique, process and linkages to the visual works. Like museum exhibition labels there is always a struggle to include relevant information in a clear, concise, and appealing way.
Personally I find introduction and gallery overview panels the most difficult, as these tend to be the most text-heavy labels. When I visit art museums or galleries I like reading overview labels, but I often find that I skim longer labels and by the end of the gallery I have label fatigue. There needs to be a middle ground between over explaining/labeling items and not providing any context.
A few resources I've found helpful when just beginning to learn about art labeling practices: