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Presentation and panelist for “The Multi-Lingual Museum: Practice and Policy” at the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting, Philadelphia (3 May 2009)

Case study insights from 3 exhibitions designed with the creative partners of Program Collective not only take language as content, but discover innovative graphic and media means to provide multi-lingual museum interpretation.

The European Parliament Visitors’ Centre (2007) balances linguistic diversity as a core institutional value (with interpretation in 23 languages) and a leitmotif of national transcendence, moving towards “no borders.”

The VOICES/VEUS/VOCES/VOIX exhibition (2004) organized by the city of Barcelona and UNESCO presents interpretation in four languages to advocate for preservation of linguistic diversity. Exhibition media enable the exhibit to become a respository of cultural “polyphony” displaying examples of the world’s known languages in a virtual “collection.”

Water for Life at World Expo 2008 creates visceral participatory experiences around water and sensual elements that help create community and dissolve the barriers presented by interpretation in French, English and Spanish.

Considering language as equally a problem of spatial design, participation, graphics and typography offers opportunities to craft museum experiences that yield communities with common interests, while preserving varied cultural expressions. Todd Palmer participated in the subsequent panel discussion with curators at Latino, Native American and Chinese-American cultural museums, moderated by Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Curator at the New York Public Library of Performing Arts.

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