Writing for Exhibits

Published January 1, 2022 by A.J.B. Johnston

It occurred to me the other day that I say very little on this site about the exhibits I work on. Mostly, I post about books or book-related events.

Exhibits, however, remain an important part of my working life. Sometimes I do a lot—like develop the storylines and write all the texts and scripts—and sometimes I contribute only in small ways. Nonetheless, I feel each project is important. Exhibits can reach a lot of people with their messages.

I was very fortunate to have worked as an historian at the Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site for more than 20 years. Back in that period, the Louisbourg historians were the main interpreters of the site and we wrote all the exhibits, and pamphlets and stuff like that. It was great training, and gave me useful skills learning how to boil down complex subjects into pithy summaries. One quickly learns that it’s a lot easier to write long than short.

Coming out of the Fortress of Louisbourg background served me well on many other projects over the years that followed, two of which are depicted below.

One is the travelling exhibit (Ni’n na L’nu) I wrote for the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of PEI and the other is the Vanguard exhibit I researched and wrote for the NS Museum.

I have also written for five exhibits in the Yarmouth and Acadian Shores of Nova Scotia, the Colchester Historeum, and the Black Cultural Centre. Recently, I contributed words to the new exhibit soon to be unveiled at the Halifax Citadel and I am currently developing the content for a new exhibit to be installed at Skmaqn—Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst NHS on PEI.

Wigwams at Confed Centre

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