Creating a New Display

A photo of a world war two display cabinet

Read on to discover how a new display is created at Horsham museum, and follow the process from the inception to the final result.

Once the theme for a new display has been chosen the museum team must decide what stories they want to tell and how to tell those stories through a display. At Horsham Museum those stories should have a local link while also being relatable to a wide audience.

The next step in the process and perhaps the most important one is to select the objects that will go into the display. Horsham Museum has a large collection in storage, so this step involves searching through databases for related objects and physically searching collection storage areas for objects that will stand out and be engaging, while also tying-in to local stories and creating a feel for the past.

Once a base of objects and focus points have been chosen time will need to be spent researching the chosen theme and the objects chosen. This process will often uncover more stories and more objects that we can’t miss the opportunity to present, and so the planned display will usually change around a bit at this time to incorporate everything.

Photo of archive boxes, neatly stored

A plan will also have to be made taking into account the size of the display cases and the objects and labels that will go into them. This will allow us to select the right number of objects to get the showcase to feel right while also leaving room for clear labels.

When everything has been chosen and researched the labels can be written. Label writing has to take into account the amount of text that people are usually willing to read against the amount of stories and information that we want to share. Too much writing will detract from the overall display, so the labels should be as concise as they can get. Don’t forget the design work for the labels! To get them looking right and in keeping with the rest of the display takes time, and there’s always fonts and text size and images to consider. If the label design isn’t right, it could throw off the whole display.

photo of display labels

Once all that is done and the labels have been proof-read and gone to the printer, it is time to change the displays over, from the old one to the new one. This has to be done fairly quickly while the museum is closed, so everything must be ready before we start. First space must be chosen in the store to move the old display items to, and the display can be cleared. Everything that is moved should be written down so that it is all accounted for. One the cases have been cleared (and cleaned) the new objects can be put in. There should already be a rough plan in place for where everything is going to go, but you always need to be ready to adapt the display so it looks as good as it can.

Once the objects and labels are in place, the lights are sorted and everything looks great, the display is ready to open! All that is left to do is update the collection database so that is shows everything where it should be, and make sure that everything put into the store is packaged properly so that it will be protected. Then its time to think about the next new display!

collection items neatly stored

Published: 19 Feb 2022