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Each slide within your StoryMap project should include a caption of 25-150 words. In the library and museum worlds, these captions are viewed as interpretive acts. You are not just conveying information; you are attempting to provoke a response in your audience. When you have only a few words in which to do that, every word counts!
Beverly Serrell, in her Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach, 2nd edition (Rowan & Littlefield, 2015) suggests that you focus on trying to answer the following questions in your captions:
- What am I looking at and why is it important? [Start broad and then narrow down to specific elements as needed.]
- What is the big idea here? How does this one object figure into a larger narrative?
- What is something significant about this object that the average viewer wouldn't know or couldn't know just by looking at the object?
- Is there controversy about this object?
- Are there unanswered questions about this object?
The Getty Museum's Guide to Adult Audience Interpretive Materials suggests a very similar set of questions:
- What is it?
- Why is it here and why should I care?
- What is the story or symbolism?
- How was it made?
- How was it used?
- What can I discover by looking more carefully?
Undertaking Additional Research
If you'd like to do a bit more research beyond what's available in subject encyclopedias, here are a few good strategies to use:
- Search Primo for books that are listed in the bibliographies of encyclopedia entries. You won't need to read the entire book, just the sections that help you interpret your object.
- Search JSTOR for scholarly articles that may reference or help you interpret your object. [JSTOR is a convenient, full-text database, but it doesn't not contain current scholarship.]
- Search ITER, a subject database devoted to medieval studies, for a more expansive set of books, essays in books, and scholarly articles.
- Search HSTM (History of Science, Technology and Medicine) particularly when you're interested in how the object was made or if it relates to medicine or aspects of warfare.