The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021 - 22

TRANSLATION
AS AN

How to Get
Your Work in
a Museum

Whether you consider translation an art or not, there
are still ways to get your translations into a museum!

By Percy Balemans

M

useums offer knowledge
but they can also provide
entertainment and

Another thing I like about this
type of translation work is how

times like we're experiencing now. In

you sometimes discover cultural

the past decade or so they have evolved

similarities rather than the cultural

from rather stuffy places to lively

differences we translators are used to.

on anything from art, photography,
and fashion to film, music, and science
and technology. The accompanying
texts are no longer limited to labels and
catalogs, but may also include audio

When translating an audio guide for a
local German museum, for example, I
discovered several local customs that
sounded very familiar because they are
also known in the Netherlands.

guides and interactive quizzes, and

Preparation and Research

promotional material such as websites

In an ideal world, the client will

and online newsletters.
What I like about translating for
museums is the subject variety. Over
the years, I've translated material
related to fashion, photography,
gemstones, theater, history, modern
art, and even Star Wars. These were
all subjects with which I was already
more or less familiar, either because
I specialize in them or because I was
interested in them. Star Wars was the
exception, as I had never seen any
of the movies, but this was easily
remedied by finally watching them.
Obviously, as with any translation,
you should only accept translations

The ATA Chronicle | Januar y/February 2021

texts aren't too specialized.

distraction, especially during hard

multimedia experiences with exhibits

22

usually aim for a wide audience, most

provide you with lots of reference
material and, once you've finished the
translation, you can visit the museum
to check whether your texts work in
the actual setting. Unfortunately, the
world usually isn't that ideal. The
reference material is often limited,
the quality of the visuals may be so
bad they're barely usable, and the
translations often have to be ready
before the exhibition is set up. So,
even if you live close enough to
the museum to actually visit, you
probably won't have an opportunity
to do a walk-through to check your
translation before an exhibition opens.
How much information you receive

on subjects with which you're

also depends on who you're working

comfortable, but since museums

for. If you're working directly for a
www.atanet.org


http://www.atanet.org

The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021

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