During the current healthcare crisis, as many of us live, work and educate ourselves at home, we want to support people to share stories, stay connected and learn a bit about each other.

From 1933 – 1954, Leeds City Museum had a weekly “Museum Window” display. Each week an object was chosen to be displayed in a window facing the street. An accompanying story was also featured in the Yorkshire Evening Post.

A newspaper showing an article on The Museum Window.

A Yorkshire Post article on The Museum Window, 1936, on Earthenware.

 

A newspaper showing an article on The Museum Window.

A Yorkshire Post article on The Museum Window, 1936 – this time on ‘The Hornbill’.

Now, we’d like to start this again and ask you all to get involved. We’d love to see people across Leeds creating their own Museum Windows for themselves and others to enjoy and to help Leeds City Museum collect new Leeds stories.

Each week we’ll highlight one key object from our collection to tell you a little bit about, and for you to theme your window around or make objects in response to. If you’d rather do your own thing and make a museum window that isn’t linked to our theme, that’s fine too!

We’ve put together a guide to creating your museum window:

  1. Choose your objects. Your objects can be anything that’s important to you, or something you’ve made in response to the theme (though perhaps nothing too valuable or anything that reveals personal information). They could have an interesting story behind them, be something you use every day or spark joy. Use as many or as few things as you like.
  2. Find some object stands. Have a look around for things to prop objects up. Things like egg boxes or plastic containers could work well for smaller objects.
  3. Write some object labels (if you want to). Labels will help people find out about your objects. For tips on writing your label, see our how to guide below.
  4. Display your objects. Start with the biggest items, working down to the smallest. You can order your display however you like, perhaps by date, story or which objects you think look best together.
  5. Label your objects. Put the labels near the objects, making sure they’re easy to see from outside and not blocking anything important.
  6. Final check. Are you happy with your display? Can you see everything clearly? Do you want to change anything?
  7. Safety first! Make sure that what you’ve chosen to display in your window isn’t highly valuable, and doesn’t divulge personal information.
  8. Share your museum window. Share photos of your window with us on Twitter and Facebook. We’d also love it if you could film a video of yourself talking about your display and share that with us, too.

Here’s some examples made earlier:

A display in someone's lounge window showing t shirts, books, pokemon cards and drawings laid out like a museum window.

Catherine’s Museum Window display.

 

A windowsill with lots of books by Alan Bennett.

An Alan Bennett themed window display.

Here are some things you might want to put in an object label. Again, these are just suggestions, you can include anything you like – maybe even a drawing illustrating how the item makes you feel.

  1. Object name – let people know what they’re looking at
  2. Date made – when did this object come from?
  3. Maker – who made this item? Where did they make it?
  4. Description – A few lines describing the object. Why did you choose the object? Are there any surprising details? Do you have any background information? Try to keep the description to 50 words or fewer.

Some examples of labels for items found around the home:

Written labels for objects in a museum window.

Written labels to go alongside each object in Catherine’s Museum Window.

 

Do you want to share something that you cherish? Do you have something with an interesting story? Is there an item which always brings you joy?

In this time of isolation, let’s get to know each other.

 

By Catherine Robins, Projects Curator.