Uncovering the Title

In this blog ‘Curating an Exhibition’ student, Pete, tells us about the process and difficulties of choosing an exhibition title!

‘Picking a title was problematic; before we started the task of naming our exhibition we were acutely aware of how long the process could take. Listed below are some of the problems we encountered.

  • Academic v Casual – There was debate over which direction we should go, specifically in relation to the type of language we should use. Some of the class preferring academic language, with others preferring a more casual approach.
  • Active v Passive – The next area of division was centered around if active phrases should be used. We agreed an active title would work better than that of a passive one. For example, a passive title such as ‘Chinese Pots’ could be made more appealing with an active phrase attached such as, ‘Chinese Pots – examining the intricate nature of ancient pottery’. We decided therefore we wanted a two-part title.
  • Avoiding the cliché – Along with book titles many museum exhibition titles can sound similar. Originally, we looked to avoid using cliché titles when brainstorming but through research we found that certain titles work for certain demographics. So, in the end we thought – if you can’t beat them, join them!  

Benefits of a good title

We knew having a good title would be a valuable asset and before we started the decision process we looked at the benefits of a good title. Below are some benefits we discovered:

  • Concise and informative – Potential visitors will easily be able to work out what an exhibition is about if the title is short and informative.
  • Meeting Expectation – If a visitor goes to an exhibition expecting to see one thing but sees another then they might leave disappointed, therefore we need to try to convey as much precise information about the exhibition, without giving false expectations!
  • Catching the eye of the target audience – We realised it would be tricky to strike the right balance between concise and informative. We knew we had to use key words to inform, but how many would be too many? A long title would put potential visitors off.
  • Marketing – As well as this we wanted a short title because it would work better on posters and marketing pieces.

How we selected our title  

The design and marketing team were responsible for coming up with a title and our original process was just a standard brainstorming session, playing around with the words ‘authentic’ and ‘world’ as our key words (we later decided to drop the word ‘world’). Once we had narrowed down to 4 title suggestions the class had agreed on we decided to use survey monkey to gather feedback on the titles.

 The 4 title suggestions were as follows.

  1. Objects Uncovered – Questioning Authenticity
  2. Hidden Meanings – Objects Uncovered
  3. Authentica – Putting Objects in Perspectives
  4. From Object to Story – Challenging Perceptions

From the results of the survey we put forward 2 title suggestions. Hidden meanings – Questioning Authenticity of Objects and the one we finally chose, Objects uncovered – Questioning Authenticity.

We feel we found the right balance between academic and casual, active and passive voices and managed to find a title that is catchy without being too cliche! What do you think? If you had to think of an exhibition title, what elements would you want to include?’

The exhibition opens on June 11th in the Sir Duncan Rice library.
Be sure to check it out!

About uoamuseums

The University of Aberdeen's Museums include King’s Museum and the University's Zoology Museum. The museums can claim to be Scotland's oldest, with records of museums and collections as far back as the late 17th century. Thanks to their status as a Recognised Collection of national significance, the Zoology Museum’s displays are currently being improved, while King's Museum hosts changing exhibitions drawn from across the collections, particularly those formerly in Marischal Museum. Visitors are warmly welcomed to the museums, and there are no charges for admission. Marischal College now houses the Museums Collections Centre, caring for and conserving many of the collections.
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