Graphic interpretation for visual storytelling - Museums Association

Graphic interpretation for visual storytelling

Vagina Museum finds that humour can help break taboos
Caroline Parry
Muff Busters: Vagina Myths and How to Fight Them, the current exhibition at London’s Vagina Museum, has replaced labels with graphic representations.

It is a decision driven by lack of space (a restriction of being housed in a Grade-II listed building) and because the museum doesn’t have a collection – instead it displays certain myths on image-heavy display boards.

“If you can’t display certain objects, then you have to think more creatively about how to develop a narrative,” says the museum’s curator, Sarah Creed.

The museum’s target audience – “everyone” – means that finding the right language and tone is challenging.

So the museum seeks to engage people through humour to break down taboos.

“We don’t have the space for panels, labels and interpretation, so we just have graphic panels,” says Creed. “We avoid replication and keep dwell time as low as possible.”

The museum attracts a high number of overseas tourists, meaning a room of dense text is unworkable. Visual storytelling aims to be accessible to everyone.

Creed says that the museum will consider using written labels in future exhibitions, but this depends on the subject matter and objects involved.

All its interpretation reflects the museum’s values of respect, integrity, empowerment and inclusiveness.

“We are walking in a 2020 hat, whereas some museums are dealing with labels that are 30 years old,” says Creed.

“We have been able to start out with modern terminology that shows our ethics and ethos from the outset. We are lucky to have that from the beginning.”

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