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What materials should museums translate?

In our last post we addressed the issue of whether or not translation of their content and resources is something museums should be considering, not only as a way to really engage their current audiences, but also as a strategy to attract new ones.

But depending on a museum’s objective, there might be different approaches:

What materials should museums translate? Read more about it in our blog!

  • Translating only maps: This is what most museums in the world do, they translate the maps so any visitor will be able to find their way around the galleries and will have access to basic information.
  • Translating maps and audio guides: This is the next step up, and also what most museums will go for. This allows visitors not only to get around but also to access information about the collections and exhibits. The downside to this is visitors normally have to pay for audio guides and many don’t. Also, many people will prefer to wander around the galleries as they wish and not follow the audio guide’s instructions.
  • Translating maps and audio guides but also wall texts: Now this is a lot closer to inclusion. If you have many foreign visitors or are located in an area that’s increasingly bilingual —as is the case with many states in America where there’s an increasing number of Spanish speakers—, then you want your visitors to at least have a broad idea of what’s the theme of the gallery or exhibit, so translating wall text will give them the opportunity to contextualize the objects shown in that space.
  • Translating maps, audio guides, wall texts and labels: This is an approach that many museums are undertaking nowadays —i.e. total inclusion through a completely bilingual presentation. Museums like the San Diego Museum of Art not only provide basic information in Spanish, but they also have their entire wall texts and labels translated, so any Spanish speaker who visit the museum can wander around the galleries and get full access to everything that’s being said. Isn’t that amazing? This shows a clear willingness to acknowledge and engage their audiences in every level. And I think it is the way to go if that’s the objective the museum has.

*A note on translating labels: As a word of advice, if you are going to translate labels, then translate them 100%! I’ve seen many times clients asking to translate labels, but leave the title or credit in English, doesn’t that defeat the purpose though? I honestly believe it does!

+ Translating the museum’s website. Strangely not something every museum does but something every museum should do! In an age where the first thing we do before we visit a place is Google it, websites are increasingly the place to go for information. And if you’re investing in translation, your website should probably have at least the basic information translated as well!

Now some may say: “Would you need to translate everything into every language? That’s insane!” Well, I don’t think so, and in my next post I will be discussing how to choose one or two languages to translate into according to your needs. Stay tuned!

#art #translation #xl8 #ucreatewetranslate

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