Link to the object: https://collections.si.edu/search/detail/edanmdm:nmah_596365?hlterm=slavery
Museum Label (74 words) :
Medallion created by Josiah Wedgwood & Sons, made in England, 1787, with refined stoneware surrounded by ceramic paste attached to a metal chain. The design of an enslaved man kneeling, hands in chains, “AM I NOT A MAN AND A BROTHER?” was a popular icon for the abolition movements against the slave trade in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The anti-slavery medallion led to British Parliament’s abolition of the slave trade in 1807.
I did an image item on Omeka during Week 3 of this, so it’s almost like part 2. First thought writing the label was, “How am I going to cram this information?” I was able to get the creators, location, year and physical description within the first sentence. Then I described the medallion and purpose in the second sentence, and an outcome, in the third sentence. I was very shocked how quickly I got to 60 words! It’s not enough, but now I understand how difficult this process is. Also, I wasn’t sure how the label would flow. In other words, I didn’t want it to sound choppy because it is packed with information.
As for my process, I went to Smithsonian website, clicked on American History category, and looked up “slavery”. I jumped ahead to page 3 from the search results and found Antislavery Medallion at the bottom. There was a ton of information based on this object which was great! Although it makes it harder for me to gather the important information. Thankfully, I was able to put the context of its production and the context for understanding its significance. If I had more room, I would probably add more on the impact of the medallion to the abolition movements.
60 to 80 words seems shorter than what I have experienced. I don’t go to museums all the time, but from what I remember there can be some large plaques. At the same time, I don’t think they were for “simpler” objects. For example, I went to The National WWI Museum in Kansas City (it was great by the way, I recommend). I had to look back at my photos to make sure, but there were some descriptions that were way more than 60 words. I counted, and a description of a large field gun had 168 words. Is it because it is a national museum? Larger objects mean more description?