Housens five stages (see first appendix) help to explain that moma visitors arent ignorant; they are at an early developmental stage, and therefore actually think differently from experts and have a different relationship to art. According to housen, this relationship is nonetheless a strong connection to art. At the earliest stage, the relationship can be characterized as storytelling that is, relating what one sees to ones recalled life experience through strings of short anecdotes. This process is satisfying to the Stage i viewer; entering a work through the lens of ones memories is the beginning of rapport and can be very rich. One of the satisfactions of the next phase of knowing, Stage ii, is that it is filled with curiosity and eagerness to learn. Stage ii viewers have the capacity to devour art in the way that a young reader wants to read everything books, signs, messages on cereal boxes.
British, museum - introduction to the, writing theme
She wanted to see if there were any patterns that might help her understand differences of various skill levels, and to mark milestones on the pathway from beginner to expert. She conducted non directive interviews with hundreds of people of varied age, gender, ethnicity, economic status, education, location, experience, and expertise with art. Through the collection and examination of a huge quantity of empirical data, housen uncovered some distinct patterns of thinking based on different exposure to art. These patterns corresponded to the conclusions of other cognitive scientists who posit that all development takes place along a pathway certain steps coming before others, as crawling comes before walking. Building on a developmental framework, then, she used the data she collected to unearth a stage theory, a description of aesthetic development that explains and predicts behavior and change. Housens research indicates that understanding art is a process learned ghostwriters in distinct stages over time, like reading. Reading skills begin to develop when a child is very young, long fuels before schooling enters in, and are marked by different interests, abilities and methods of instruction all along the way. Most of us have witnessed the moments when children begin to recognize letters, when they begin to sound out words, and when they finally read with comprehension on their own. We need to recognize that visual learning is also a long, complicated process, which merits comparable systems to teach. This process consists of devices designed to serve particular needs at a given time that eventually allow one to come to terms with complex visual structures.
Knowing the magnitude of the problem does little to tell us how and writing where to begin compensating. Moreover, while the data confirm awareness among educators that many museum communications are over the heads of those whom we want to assist, those with the authority to change programs do not always agree with this assessment. We also have to face the fact that most museum visits are short, irregular, and infrequent, allowing us little time and opportunity to remediate if we decide to. What can we do differently to help our visitors enjoy what we find so meaningful? Further Research: housens Theory of Aesthetic development. To begin finding ways to help our audiences, information beyond that contained in the moma surveys was certainly needed, particularly so that we could understand the strengths of viewers, not simply their deficiencies. We learned of the work of Abigail housen (Ed. D., harvard University a cognitive psychologist with a deep interest in and knowledge of art. Reasoning that all people with great expertise in art had at one point been beginners, housen developed a research method allowing her to study how people of different levels of knowledge think.
From this sample, we determined a number of things, including the facts that the majority of momas visitors: have rather narrow definitions of art, too narrow in fact to embrace much modern art; do not speak in the language of art criticism or history. They admit to minimal understandings of specialized vocabulary; when asked to talk about art, they often misuse stylistic terms and employ very little technical or analytical vocabulary; recognize only prominent artists work, and even then are significantly better at citing the author of a work. For instance, they have little awareness with that chronology, stylistic or media groupings lie behind many installation and exhibition choices. They exhibit little ability to identify themes or to recognize their function as categories of organization. (Data to support these generalizations is available through momas Department of Education.). Although these descriptions seem unfortunately negative, little of this is news to museum educators. The results of these studies articulate the effects of the marginal role of art particularly modern and contemporary art in our culture and educational systems. The depth of misunderstanding, however, might be surprising, and a bit disheartening.
This paper reflects such activity. What follows is a summary of findings derived largely from research at The museum of Modern Art, ny, during the 1980s (when I was Director of Education). Implications and conclusions are drawn from that data, and information from cognitive psychologist Abigail housen has been added to create more complete understandings. Originally, we set out to determine what moma visitors knew about modern art and what patterns they employed when thinking about it, intending to let such understanding lead to a general guide for writing texts to assist our visitors. Further reflection led me to conclude that what applies to moma has applications to the situations of many museums. This paper contains background and guidelines for writing, as well as appendices with aesthetic stage information, and two sample label texts. Background Research: Initial Efforts, in 1986 at moma, wanting to know what visitors knew about modern art, the department of Education administered a visual Literacy survey to 150 randomly selected individuals. This was a sample large enough to make valid assumptions about visitors in general according to the research firm we engaged to assist.
Creative, writing - brunel, museum
Other people may: Spot factual mistakes and inconsistencies. Tell you when your text doesnt say what you meant to say. Spot unnecessary words, assumed knowledge or jargon. Suggest corrections that are patently worse that your draft and so make you feel more confident about your writing. Be better at spelling and grammar than you.
Let's Talk About Text: programme and booking information. This document contains background and guidelines for writing and two sample label texts, all derived from a summary of research findings at The museum of Modern Art, new York. By philip Yenawine, like most aspects of museums, instructional programs are still an evolving phenomenon. To date, few practices are universally accepted, in part because there is neither consensus on the nature of audiences and their needs nor how to address them. For the last decade, however, much work has been done to arrive at more accurate, shared understandings of the people who visit museums, and what we can do to help them gain maximum enjoyment and benefit from their visits.
Engaging writing will engage visitors. Be careful about assumed knowledge. Be conscious of your perspective cultural, social, racial, gender and generational, to name a few. When youve run out of energy, put your writing away and come back to it another day. Edit, editing takes time.
Print out your writing and read. Put it on the fridge door. If you are over the word count, look for extra words lurking about for example, the people would have camped by the river is easily shortened to The people camped by the river. Sometimes you will need to remove a whole point. Sadly, the world will be denied your incisive prose but there simply may not be enough room (and be very careful if youre using sarcasm and irony; it doesnt always work in museums). Share with others, let other people see your work. One day your words will be in the public domain, so you need to show other people. There are plenty of other compelling arguments for overcoming any reluctance to share.
Museum and Story centre great Missenden, bucks
A good tip is to tell yourself that your first version wont be the final one. This should free you up to start. Once youve written one, write the next one below. Dont write over the first one. This avoids the my first version was a work of genius but I deleted it syndrome. It is also good for commitment-phobics. Think about the nouns, verbs and adjectives that you are using.
What is it next to? What comes before and after? And never forget your visitors. Who is likely to be reading it? What do they know already? Start, the blank page can be terrifying but, if you are going to write text, you will have to start at some point. If you leave it too late, there will be less time for editing. Keep writing and let it flow.
are not saying. Planning your writing is critical. It makes the job of writing much easier and faster. If you dont plan, you will probably write text that doesnt meet your needs and youll need more rewrites. Planning also helps with confidence - as you plan, youll be deciding (and hopefully accepting) what you are and arent going to say. Try making a list of points before you write, being realistic about what you can fit in a rough guide is about one or two points in a 30-word label, or four or five points in a 50-word text. As you make your list, remember the interpretive plan for this piece of text. Think about where it is going.
She set up the firm in 2008 after spending more than 10 years making documentaries and features for bbc radio. Harland will chair, lets Talk About Text: How to Write Effective text, an mp seminar that takes place on 9 December 2015 at the royal College of Surgeons in London. Delegates will learn more about the principles of writing effective text, such as achieving a clear and consistent tone, as well as the importance of the scripting process and balancing good text with good design. Speakers from a wide writing range of organisations will also discuss different approaches to writing gallery text, and challenge museums to think critically and creatively about why, how and when they use text. Click here for the full programme and booking information. Lucy harlands guide to writing museum text:. Before you start planning or writing, ask yourself if text is really the best way to tell your story and engage your visitors. Text is only one way of communicating and not always the best.
Write about any museum you have visited or would like to visit!
This resource can support Accreditation Standard.3.1, essay The museum must exhibit the collections using a variety of interpretative methods. This is a slide share presentation for writing effective museum text. Clicking the link on this page will open this resource to view on the SlideShare website. The written word is one of the key means that museums have to share stories about collections with visitors. But are we doing enough to ensure that the text on labels, gallery panels and interactives is earning its place? What do different audiences need from what they read in museums? And how can we use the written word in playful or experimental ways to encourage a deeper connection with objects? Lucy harland is the director. Lucidity media, which helps museums to find and tell captivating stories.