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 Post subject: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Either)
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:32 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
From the Facebook side of Ahead of the Torch:

https://advisor.museumsandheritage.com/ ... RR4TsPwsEE


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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:38 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
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Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Already referenced in an earlier post.


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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:42 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Sorry about that, this happens when you're in a rush!!


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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:48 pm 

Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:36 pm
Posts: 13
Location: Bucks County and West Chester, PA
Both approaches have their merits; in an environment like a railroad museum where the goal (should be) to engage the general public and younger audiences I certainly agree that the labels should be easy to understand while remaining informative. More experienced railfans can always turn to books or other outlets such as forums if they want information.


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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 9:38 am 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1428
I agree. There is nothing worse than a simplistic explanation crafted to communicate with a child. Often such writers underestimate the abilities of young readers. These writers often fail to say what they mean. I think that is the area that needs vast improvement. The challenge is to explain technical concepts without the use of technical jargon.


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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 10:04 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 484
I really like the style of signs that are used at Henry Ford and Greenfield Village. The title is at the top, and at the bottom is the the basic history in one sentence (example “This replica was constructed at Greenfiled Village in 1933.” And in between is the story which gives more detail on the items history and importance.

I’ve seen signs that focus on technical info that are well written and should be understandable by most visitors. I’ve also seen signs that are “fun” that are confusing and leave out all basic details like when something was built or if it’s an original or replica.


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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 12:52 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:51 pm
Posts: 1704
Location: Southern California
Years ago at a general small/local museum group presentation I heard these comments about artifact signage and story panels:

1. Some people are going to go quickly through your exhibits and others will be interested in reading everything.

2.Give a title that conveys the basic information.

3. Then provide more information

4. If you have multiple panels telling a story, provide the basic information in the first panel. Then tell the details on the additional panels. Some people will want to read the additional panels, others will skip over them.

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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2019 8:37 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 484
Tyler H. wrote:
More experienced railfans can always turn to books or other outlets such as forums if they want information.


I totally disagree with this viewpoint. That’s like a librarian suggesting someone just use their iPhone to look up information. The museum that has the actual artifact should be the best place to research that item.


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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 12:25 am 

Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:36 pm
Posts: 13
Location: Bucks County and West Chester, PA
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Tyler H. wrote:
More experienced railfans can always turn to books or other outlets such as forums if they want information.


I totally disagree with this viewpoint. That’s like a librarian suggesting someone just use their iPhone to look up information. The museum that has the actual artifact should be the best place to research that item.

Fair rebuttal. I suppose then that's where the on-site staff could come in.


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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:09 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 484
We’ve all been to museums where on-site staff knows very little about the equipment.
The most ideal situation is a place like the Colorado RR museum where they have a library for those who really want to research!

I think In an ideal world, there would be good signage giving the basic history. Somewhere on property there was a library or info center where more info can be obtained, and then online have digital history of the pieces of the museum collection.

Whenever discussions like this come up it’s always tricky to figure out what people are actually suggesting. If we are all in agreement that signs should give the basic info like build date, original owner, etc. than that’s that. Obviously it should be a well written and easy to read sign.


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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:34 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 8:10 am
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I’m not sure, CZ. Builder, build date and original owner are cool stats for us, but beyond our clique who gives a hoot? The average person needs to know why the artifact is important. Stats can come later (unless you are displaying equipment in the shop where it was built).

I don’t know any “civilian” who has been concered about The Polar Express script calling PM #1225 a Baldwin. Details matter to us; the experience matters to the general public.

Rob

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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:30 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 10, 2015 10:29 am
Posts: 73
Location: Michigan
The Museums and Heritage blog at the URL posted twice in separate threads is titled,

"Museums need to write conversational text to be more inclusive".

Crescent-Zephyr suggested the Henry Ford museum does a pretty good job with their signs.

The attached photo illustrates a conversational style sign at Henry Ford.

John


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File comment: Photo taken when Reagan car windows were "fogging".
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REAGAN CAR.jpg [ 140.46 KiB | Viewed 995 times ]
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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:40 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 484
robertjohndavis wrote:
I’m not sure, CZ. Builder, build date and original owner are cool stats for us, but beyond our clique who gives a hoot? The average person needs to know why the artifact is important. Stats can come later (unless you are displaying equipment in the shop where it was built).
Rob


Ok then I was wrong. Ha.

It should be assumed that a decent percentage of visitors to a history museum / historical attraction are interested in history. So the basics historic facts (build date, builder, original owner) should be posted. I can’t see any possible harm in posting these facts on a sign. It’s also what I see at car shows, art museums, etc.

Does the average visitor (and who that is will change from museum to museum) care if it’s a Baldwin or an ALCO? I’m not sure. Does the average visitor care if it’s a Monet or a Picasso? And going back to greenfield village, I know I’m interested if a building is an original or a replica, when it was built, and where it was built.


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 Post subject: Re: Some Notes on Writing Style--(And We're Not Alone, Eithe
PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2019 11:53 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 484
Oh and just for fun....

I always thought the Baldwin reference in the Polar Express was intentional. The “know it all” kid actually doesn’t know it all. Like it’s an inside joke for those who actually know or look it up.


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