About Our Labels
How to Read a Label
At the Museum of Folly we work hard to make our labels accessible while reflecting the most up-to-date scholarship in the field. Each of our labels is organized according to a regular formula. Consider this example:
Traffic post, 2007
In July 2007, Residents of Keizer, Oregon, complained about the erection of this traffic post in their sleepy town. The thrust of their argument was that something about its shape was offensive to the bedroom community.
The object’s shape may actually allude to the scepter that is a traditional attribute of the fool.
Now let’s look more closely at the components of this label.
The first line gives the name of the work and its date of manufacture. If the name of the work is an official title given by the maker, it is italicized. Where the date of the work is uncertain, the degree of uncertainty is expressed usually the following vocabulary:
1000–1100 = certain of this date
probably 1000–1100 = less certain
approx. 1000–1100 = still less certain
perhaps 1000–1100 = speculative
The second line gives the name of the artist and the place the work was made. Place names proceed from small to large level: Prairie Chapel Ranch, Crawford, Texas. Historical polities and cultural designations may also appear on this line.
This line indicates the kind of materials from which the object is made.
The credit line gives information about the work’s donor (or other means of acquisition). In any major museum this is among the most important of all information.
Information following the credit line in one or more paragraphs of continuous prose is called the “chat.” This is where our curators provide educational information and insight into the object within its historical and cultural contexts.