Thursday, March 3, 2016

Brilliant Labels in Dublin: Sweets, Nudes and U2

I love to be surprised in museums and it doesn't happen often, so I was thrilled to be genuinely surprised by labels(and more) at the Little Museum of Dublin this week. The Little Museum is the city of museum of Dublin and embraces its status as a museum of the people. It also embraces and embodies the values of generosity, informality and friendliness.

Here are two labels from the beautiful Georgian room where the tour starts.

Sweets and a label explaining why there are few labels, based on what we know--totally unexpected. I was definitely surprised! Plus, a great label explaining Georgian architecture. Good questions, and a big "so what?" for the visitor to contemplate as well.

And next, a label explaining this image the image at below left.

Make sure you read that last line. I was happy to learn about Nell McCafferty, but even happier that the label on this object challenged, in the nicest way (is nice overrated? not here) both museum practice and the visitor's own assumptions.

Lots of museums are complimentary about former politicians, but not many make political statements, even a soft one, about the contemporary need for civic leadership. And it's not only politicians who come in for a bracing critique. The museum's U2 exhibit traces the history of the city's most famous band in an space developed by fans. But did Bono and the rest become sell outs?

Even the gift shop embraces the spirit evidenced in these labels.
I've got another post to write about their exhibits commemorating the centennial of the 1916 uprising, but you may also want to check out their City of a Thousand Welcomes project. For free, you can sign up and meet a local for a cup of tea, coffee or a pint and conversation. Both visitors and residents who want to be Ambassadors can sign up via the website. I didn't have time to do it, but it's definitely on my list for a return visit. More than 2000 visitors last year took advantage of the offer.
And the take-away here? Ideas don't cost money. Most of the labels are simply produced--the effort is in the thinking and writing. The Thousand Welcomes project could be done by museums almost anywhere. No bells, whistles, or holograms here, just a reminder of what we can be as community-based museums.
Thanks, Little Museum for such a surprising, inspiring visit!



FDV said...


Jakob Stig Nielsen said...

Waugh! very inspiring - thanks

Catherine CHarlebois said...

Wow! I just love it! I'm putting this in my idea box. This is simple, humorous and efficient. I need to do something like that in our next exhibit.

Grace Zimmermann said...

Inspiring and certainly thought provoking. Love it. And congrats on the blog's 10th anniversary.