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In today’s lecture at Bmag, we discussed the roles of the Exhibition Officer, Katie Hall, and how she looks over many members of staff within the Birmingham Museums Trust. The most important of her roles being organisation and communication, as over each of the sites, staff and external bodies are needed to be kept in check. Working alongside designers in both small and large exhibitions, Katie ensures that interpretation within the museums is accessible to all; following both the graphic interpretation guidelines and the interpretation standards. The learning team ensure the average reading age of 12 years is demonstrated in the literary of labels. The visual and physical means of interpretation are exemplar to Katie’s articulation of the collections to the general public, such as the use of timelines, video, maps, images and interactive games and dressing up.

This led to the practical part of the session that involved discovering the possibilities of interpretation. Our group of objects were from the display on Birmingham and the Slave Trade. As a group we needed to decipher our target audience, families and adults, and how we would arrange and interpret the objects. Using the empathy mapping system we explored the possible emotive reactions to the artefacts as well as how they could be arranged in a manner that would tell a chronological story. We decided that the terminology used to describe these items would need to be carefully evaluated in order to suit its sensitive subject, yet still depict an accurate history of the slave trade in Birmingham.

Once we had finished this discussion, as a group we attended the History Galleries displays to view its interpretation and reflect on what decisions we thought were appropriate. We felt that the display was easy to navigate around, including quotes, imagery and digital interaction, that made the display interesting and approachable to a wide age range. However, it was discussed that the present tense jargon felt inappropriate to the subject area, and was confusing to read. Although the display referenced Birmingham’s history with Slave Trade- we thought that interesting historical icons like Olauda Equino could have been expanded on in further detail. Overall, it did what it says on the tin and gave a good insight into the history of Birmingham and the Slave Trade through simplistic, intriguing means.

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