Students' worksheet (long version)

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Memo

From

Lisa, Collections Manager

To

Special Gallery Officer

Re.

Our new gallery, Ways we see the world

The Whipple is a museum of the history of science. We have a world-class collection of scientific instruments and models.

In common with many museums, education is one of our most important roles. And, again like many museums, we have many more objects than we can display at once. So we regularly remove old galleries and launch new galleries to attract visitors and help them learn more about the history of science.

Ways we see the world

The museum is holding a special event next week entitled Ways we see the world. The centrepiece of this event will be a new gallery.

The event's theme, Ways we see the world, is deliberately broad. On the one hand, it can be quite literal: it can be about seeing with our eyes. There are many objects in the history of science related to this, such as microscopes or telescopes. On the other hand, it can also be more metaphorical: it can be about our attitudes to and understanding of the world and our place within it. We have many objects, such as models for teaching, that are relevant to this too.

Your brief

Your brief is to create the new gallery for this event. You will need to find objects, research them, choose which ones to put in your gallery, and write labels for them.

  1. Find and research objects

    To find appropriate objects, I suggest you start by looking in the museum's stores. You could also see if useful objects are available at auction or from private individuals.

    To find out more about the objects, you can consult experts, use the museum's library, and try the internet. I suggest you make notes about the objects at this stage.

  2. Choose objects for your gallery

    You should try to research between 6 and 10 objects. However, we only have space to show between 3 and 5 objects. So you must decide which of the objects are the most significant in affecting the ways we see the world.

    To help you decide how significant an object is, you should use these 5 Rs of significance:

    • Remarked upon. Is this object, or what it helps us to do, special or out of the ordinary in some way? Was it or is it much talked about it? Remember that, even if we now don't now find the object remarkable, people may have found it so at the time it was created.
    • Remembered. Are objects like this, or the people who first made and used them, remembered by the history books?
    • Resonant. Do people compare this object, or the effects it had, with later objects or effects? Has it become a part of our culture: something people commonly refer to? (For example, an object connected to nuclear power might be resonant as an example of a technology that can have both productive and destructive uses).
    • Resulting in change. Did this object, or the work it was used in, have consequences for the present and/or future? Might things have been very different without it?
    • Revealing. Does the object reveal some other aspect of the past? Does it highlight a particular problem or issue at the time? Does it provide an example of a wider trend?

    Note that an object doesn't have to fit all of the 5 Rs to be significant: it might just fit one or two of them quite strongly. And remember that there isn't one right choice of objects - the important thing is your reasoning.

  3. Write labels

    Remember that your labels will be the main source of information for your gallery visitors. And your visitors will, of course, want to understand a little about what the objects are and what they do.

    But they will also want to know why these particular objects are on display, so you must explain how the objects are significant in affecting the Ways we see the world. You should structure your explanation using the 5Rs you considered above.

    Obviously, the museum is keen to preserve its reputation for professionalism, so it's important that you're careful with your writing style, punctuation, grammar and so on.

I very much look forward to the unveiling of your gallery. Good luck!

All the best,
Lisa

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