Tips on how to evaluate potential titles/names for exhibitions. Elements of this article first appeared in 'Visitor Behaviour', Fall/Winter, 1997, Numbers 3-4, Page 32
Clever or catchy? Informative or insane! Brash or boring? Titles must one of the least loved yet important aspects of developing exhibitions in museums. Titles need to capture the ‘essence’ of the exhibition subject area yet still be catchy enough to sell to a public that is constantly exposed to clever and, often inane, advertising and selling. Evaluators may be called in to help resolve arguments about this touchy subject but how is this best done?
At the Australian Museum we have conducted many evaluations for exhibition titles. We usually try to find out more information from visitors about why they like or dislike a suggested name which always gives interesting insights into what they think about the topic overall, as well as the Museum generally.
We often think that visitors haven’t heard of a concept or term, such as ‘biodiversity’ or ‘Indigenous Australians’, and are always surprised at the knowledge that our visitors bring to the Museum.
We often go to our visitors with ‘sexy’ or ‘cool’ titles that they hate, or conservative titles which they like. Either way it seems we can’t win!
So what to do? We have found that there are a number of issues or things to be aware of when choosing or testing titles:
Don't stress too much and remember, less is more in most cases and strap-lines often redundant quickly become redundant!