Here's just a few examples from several different exhibits. Above, visitors could hand-crank reproduction sausage through a grinder, reading a memory of sausage-making as the links spooled along. Below left, census information is printed on a (I'm sure) reproduction piece of clothing. Below right, a silhouette and a informational pillow represent one of the house's earliest residents.
Everyone seemed to love this installation in the Greatest Generation exhibit. Oral histories and photos were printed on paper dry-cleaner bags, and visitors could move the rack around to read. Below, more food story labels, on bread and cans.
I watched several families gingerly sit, below, on a bed, and listen and laugh as their weight triggers an audio segment.
And finally, this one from Mill City. Because as clever as these labels are, if they didn't help us towards a "so what?" understanding, then they would just be design tricks. Instead, each one made the museum feel friendly--like they wanted to sit down and share a compelling story with you or encourage you to consider something new. After my few days in Minneapolis, the labels seem to embody Minnesotans--very Minnesota-friendly! For more information about the Minnesota Historical Society's work on the Open House: If These Walls Could Talk exhibit, where many of these images come from, be sure and check out Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World, edited by Bill Adair, Benjamin Filene and Laura Koloski.