Looking for a good time?
Here’s why nobody reads museum panels.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll often be frustrated by museum panels. Many of them are so onerous or difficult to read that most people simply give up or don’t bother starting. When I was growing up I was one of those kids who was too impatient to battle through boring museum panels and guidebooks, largely because I had better things to be doing. I wanted the content to be easy to read and understand, and I wanted to be entertained at the same time.
This engaging and enriching style of writing is essential if you want to communicate with audiences who aren’t ‘forced’ to read whatever it is you’re writing. Visitors to museums and heritage attractions are a great example of this type of audience, but the same also applies to businesses that wish to attract customers. In the heritage sector, transferring information in a way that is engaging and enriching is known as ‘interpretation’ and writing in an interpretive style is essential if you want to keep your visitors and customers happy.
The definition of good interpretation is ‘the art of explaining the meaning of something’. Visitors don’t just want to know what an artefact is. They want to know why it’s important, and why it is relevant to them. Not only that, they don’t want to work too hard either. It’s worth remembering that our visitors are looking for a good time, not a hard time, and they don’t want to spend hours reading technical or lengthy documents.
This is the essence of good interpretive copywriting, where the goal is to distil each big story into just a few words and ignite an interest in the reader.