Web writing for museums: Analyzing principles and best writing practices for digital media through the case study “Wise Stones (Pedras Sabidas) Accessible Circuit”

How-to Session

Ana Cecília Rocha Veiga, UFMG - Federal University of Minas Gerais State , Brazil, Roberto Vaz, University of Porto, UT Austin | Portugal CoLab, Portugal, Paula Odete Fernandes, UNIAG; Polytechnic Institute of Bragança (IPB), Portugal

Museum communication professionals have developed theories and knowledge about museum texts and institutional discourse. However, in the past decades, the digital revolution has brought about deep changes in our behavior with respect to written words in digital support. That support can be found not only in the web (virtual museums and institutional websites), but also in exhibit facilities, through interactive interfaces, apps, QR Codes and other digital media that form our contemporary exhibits. That requires a change in the current writing paradigms toward the best ways to impart knowledge in museums and through the Internet. Therefore, the various players responsible for the text in a museum (curators, museologists, historians etc.) are now required to acquire several previously non-existent skills. In this work we want to discuss writing in museums starting from digital support, both for the web and for interactive exhibitors. We created writing guidelines based on new web writing techniques and current demands, without prejudice to the primary functions of a museum. As an example of our reflections, we intend to study the case of the Project “Pedras Sabidas (Wise Stones) Interactive Exhibitors’ Accessible Circuit”, which is a roadmap consisting of accessible digital interfaces, exposed at the MM Gerdau – Mines and Metal Museum in the City of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. This Project received an award from the Ibermuseus Program in 2016. In this work we analyze, therefore, the written production both of the project’s website and of the interactive interfaces’ contents, exemplifying, through the Pedras Sabidas Accessible Circuit, that which we define as exhiwriting (digital exhibition writing). This is a proposal of web writing principles for museums, encompassing the best writing practices for social media and for the web, without giving up the sophistication and depth required by museum communication, thus fulfilling the social function of our museums.

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