Objects tell many stories, and a museum label can only hold so much information. Moreover, labels are usually written by museum workers like curators, who control what objects go on display and what information is being shared. In this way museums have the power to represent different objects and cultures to wider audiences by choosing which objects are displayed, and how. The goal of RePresent is to change our perception of objects on display by sharing many stories — to re–present the objects to audiences by better representing communities and cultures. We want audiences to read labels that include memories, personal stories, and emotional connections to the objects on display. We also want to develop better relationships with the many diverse audiences local to museums, who may feel excluded by current programming and alienated by current displays.
The project began with a pilot workshop in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology from 24th–30th September 2020. Participants from the Cambridge African Network came together to talk about museums, heritage, and representation. The participants each wrote their thoughts on an object currently on display in the museum, and these new community labels will go on display in October 2020.