Exhibit labelling is fundamentally important to the visitor experience. This particularly the case for heritage attractions such as museums, historic houses, industrial heritage sites, etc. Communicating the story surrounding the exhibit, providing context, all helps the viewer to engage personally. Perhaps even stirring them at an emotional level? So yes, labelling is something not to be taken lightly. Exhibit labelling is an exacting art!
The compromises with labelling
Traditionally, museum curators have always faced a challenge when it comes to exhibit labelling. This challenge is governed by the information displayed, versus the space available, and also the setting. Lack of space is usually the greatest limitation that can get in the way of this process. Equally, a sensitive setting may mean that excessive labelling or signage would be unsightly.
A fine balance
To create effective exhibit labelling there’s an important balance to be struck. It’s between visitor anticipation of the physical object appearing within their view. And the additional need for providing well-structured and condensed textual information. This balance when achieved, should make information and context enjoyable and easy to absorb. But of course it’s great if the label can arouse deeper thoughts and feelings in the visitor. Understandably, it’s what curators and managers hope to achieve for their installations. I suppose you could think of labels as being the ultimate definition of short-form text. Labelling needs to work at a range of levels simultaneously, and usually in a condensed format.
A new way to create exhibit labelling using 3D space
There are new ways to ‘augment’ or even replace physical labels – by creating them in a digital space. Kiosk type installations are one option. But for greater interactivity, consider making information available on the visitors’ own mobile device. This is achieved using augmented reality which is novel and engaging when well-implemented. Here at App Studio UX, we call this schema ‘Digital Labelling’.
What’s great is that you can now serve-up deeper levels of information to visitors on their own mobile device. And, depending on their interest levels, you can make information both interactive and contextual.
It can be a confusing subject area – if you wish to explore the possibilities, just call.