The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021 - 23

museum and have access to

sometimes from the museum

I found a proper close-up

more specialized, in-depth

curators, they'll usually be

itself). These photos are

of the dress: it turned out

information.) When in

able to provide you with all

usually not categorized, so you

the dress literally had nails

doubt, discuss this with the

the information you need and

may have to browse a bit if

embroidered on it! Another

exhibition's curator to ensure

answer questions. However,

you're looking for something

description that really had

your translation fits in with

I've also done translations for

specific, but they can be

me stumped before I found

what they had in mind.

a company that specializes

incredibly useful. And they

that all-important visual was

in museum audio tours, and

tend to be very recent: you'll

a " velvet cassock opening

Audio Guides: When

they weren't always able

often find photos that have

to reveal an icon. " Again,

translating audio guides, make

to send me everything I

been taken just hours earlier.

it turned out to be, very

sure the text will be easy to

literally, a velvet cassock with

follow when listened to. This

two " doors " that opened to

means that you shouldn't

reveal a religious icon.

use long and/or complicated

needed. The same can apply
when you're working via a
translation agency.
Regardless of whether you
work directly for a museum
or via an agency or another
company, you should always
ask for reference material,
such as visuals, previously
translated texts on the
subject, texts from other
exhibitions, information
on the target audience,

Types of Texts
The type of texts you need
to translate may vary. Some
exhibitions only have panel
texts and a catalog, while
others will also have an audio
guide or other multimedia.
In some cases, you may be
asked to translate the website
and other promotional
material as well.

glossaries, and style guides.

Labels: Labels describe the

This will provide you with

individual items on display,

as much background as

which is why it's essential to

possible about the subject of

have visuals of these items.

the exhibition and help you

One of the first exhibitions

determine the appropriate

I translated all the labels

style and register.

for was a fashion exhibition

Visuals are the most

about Jean Paul Gaultier. The

important resources. Most of

client did have visuals, but

the time the client will be able

they turned out to be tiny

to provide visuals, but if not,

thumbnail photos that didn't

there are other ways to find

show much detail. This made

them. If you're translating for

it really hard to translate

an exhibition that's already

some of the descriptions,

open, your first resource, if

especially since Gaultier is

available, is the museum's

known for using unusual

website. If you're lucky, it

materials and techniques

will contain detailed photos
of the exhibition, sometimes
even 360-degree panorama

sentences. Be careful,

Texts are no longer
limited to labels and
catalogs, but may
also include audio
guides and interactive
quizzes, and
promotional material
such as websites and
online newsletters.

however, not to use too many
short sentences, as this will
make the text sound too
" staccato " when read aloud.
Once you've finished your
translation, always read it
aloud to check how it sounds.
(This is always a good idea for
any type of translation!)
Ask for a map of the route
that listeners of the audio
guide will follow. Instructions
in audio guides are usually
fairly straightforward (e.g.,
" turn left, " " take the stairs
to the second floor " ), but
sometimes they can be a

If you can't find any

bit confusing, especially

visuals and the client or

when the audio guide is for

agency is unable to help,

an old building or castle

make sure you make a note

with unusual rooms and

of any descriptions that you
are unsure about so they can
be checked by someone who
is familiar with the items

passageways. In that case,
it helps if you can check
out a map to see the exact

on display.

location of that door or

that really have to be seen to

Panel Texts: Panel texts

go through.

be understood.

tend to be more general and

For example, one dress was

passage visitors will have to
It's also a good idea to

are often used to provide

check if the text is going to be

photos or videos that lead you

described as containing " nail

background information

used for the audio guide only

through the exhibition.

embroidery. " Since I'm not

about the items on display

or whether it will be printed

If there's no website,

a specialist in embroidery,

in a specific room or area.

or included in a multimedia

Google Maps can also be a

I wondered whether maybe

Ideally, they're concise and

guide as well. Audio guides
used to be available on special

this was a specific method

easy to read (avoiding long,

if you're translating for an

of embroidery. Luckily for

complicated sentences). Also

hardware that was only

existing exhibition or if the

me, the exhibition had

keep in mind that not all

available at the museum,

exhibition has already been

previously been on display

visitors may be familiar with

but these days, especially in

staged somewhere else. Look

in several other countries,

the subject of the exhibition,

COVID times, museums are

up the museum and click

so I was able to find quite a

so avoid specialized

switching more and more to

on Photos. Here you'll find

few photos online. After a

language. (The exhibition

apps that can be downloaded

photos from visitors (and

bit of online detective work,

catalog is usually used for

on smartphones. These

great resource for photos

www.ata-chronicle.online

American Translators Association

23


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The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021

Contents
The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021 - 1
The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021 - 2
The ATA Chronicle - January/February 2021 - Contents
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