The ITP team had the chance to attend this year’s National Programmes Conference, hosted by the British Museum.

This one-day conference provided a platform for people working in and with museums to honestly and openly share their work, research and ideas on how UK museums can address their own histories and those of their communities.

The conference focused on museum practice: addressing the realities of museum work and how colleagues are effecting change within their organisations.

This year’s conference highlighted issues of representation, authority and power with particular focus on disability, class, gender, race and sexuality.

In a series of ITP blogs, we will be sharing some of the ideas and concepts that we took away from the conference. This entry will be focusing on how museums can best represent LGBTQ+ communities.

“You Better Write!” Creating LGBTQ+ Inclusive Text Interpretation

Delivered by Laura Bauld, Burrell Renaissance Project

Laura Bauld, Assistant Project Curator at Glasgow Museums, The Burrell Collection held a text reinterpretation workshop based on her top tips from her work LGBTQ+ focused label rewriting. The museum believes in ‘Inclusion through integration’ and is working on a 1.5 year long permanent text interpretation project within the collection.

Laura presented her top tips from ‘The Burrell Guide; Writing with Pride.’

  • Give up your voice & give it to the community.
  • Collaborate – for example, the collection worked with an over-50-year-old section of the LGBTQ+ community who co-curated with them.
  • Let the community take over – compare and learn from this to create stronger emotional connections with visitors – ‘nothing about us, without us!’
  • Adopt gender neutral language.
  • Be an ally with the words you write. For example, use a word such as ‘deity’ instead of ‘god/goddess’.
  • Make historical objects relevant today.

Workshop

The room was split into small groups and had a very participatory focus. The point was to explore how to give a voice to the LGBTQ+ community.

The groups were then given a photograph of an object and the text that would normally accompany it in the museum display.

The task was to rewrite the label in no more than 50 words, using what the participant thought was inclusive to the LBGTQ+ community.

Laura then asked each group to read out their new label and explain how they chose the text.

Examples of labels re-written in the workshop

Challenges

  • Making sure appropriate and correct terminology is used
  • 50 words is restrictive but makes the participant really consider what is relevant/impactful.
  • Short space of time to work in a group of people who have just met, but this motivates networking and interactivity.

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