National Curriculum Subject Areas: Cross curricular/Art and Design
Length of session: 60-90 minutes
Maximum group size: 32

Learning Outcomes

-    To understand the relationship between objects at the Pitt Rivers Museum and how they are labelled
-    To analyse and discuss some of the problematic labels in the museum written in the 19th and 20th centuries
-    To understand how and why the objects were acquired by looking at the colonial history of the museum 
-    To discuss how and why the Pitt Rivers now foregrounds many voices to interpret the objects it cares for

Session Outline

What should we do with the labels in the Pitt Rivers that use racist or offensive language? What happened during the museum’s past that brought about the creation of some of these labels? Who is being represented and who is representing when we use language to ‘explain’ objects and the people who owned them? These are some of the key questions that students will interrogate when they explore the relationship between labels, language and representation. 
Students will study and discuss a range of museum labels in detail, looking at how labelling has evolved throughout the museum’s history. There will be an option to debate what the museum should do with existing labels in the future. 
‘The Labelling Matters session allowed my students to think deeply about the fact that museums are not neutral spaces! It blew them away!’

Secondary Teacher