A guide to planning and installing label holders

Absolute Label Holder, displaying information for and next to ‘Samuel Rogers at his Breakfast Table, 1823’.

A guide to assist you during the planning and installation phase of adding label holders to an exhibition space.

“Exhibition and display work is considered the foundation of curatorial communication. The place where the idea, theme or story is given intention through the assembly of exhibits, objects and art.” - Curatorial Research Centre, 2019

The supporting cast - communicating your narrative

No matter the information method or intent used to communicate the narrative of an exhibit, objects or art – label holders are there as supporting cast, always allowing space, for the main event.

Supporting the overall narrative is paramount and here are some of our top tips towards allowing yours to shine.

We have broken our tips down into 3 areas:

  1. On the wall
  2. In a display case
  3. Other settings/conditions

O1 I On the Wall

A clean, considered wall mounted label holder next to an artwork can greatly enhance the visitor experience and their understanding of the piece they are viewing. A series of well planned wall mounted label holders allows the viewer to move easily along a gallery, flowing seamlessly from one piece to the next. Here are some key points to consider:


1. Allow the right amount of 'space to breathe'

Label Holders become support when they allow clear space around an artwork. For example on larger artworks consider placing the Label Holder approximately 60 to 100 mm from the side edge of the artwork, and consistently all to the left or all to the right. There needs to be enough visual tension between the artwork and Label Holder so that they belong to each other, without crowding the work or distracting the eye.


2. Use the same size label holder throughout

Procure Label Holders for the longest description. Label Holders work best in a line of artworks when they are consistent in size and in mounting height. As long as the label holders are of consistent size the extra white space for shorter descriptions works.


3. Position above the inside line of the frame

Placing your Label Holder slightly above the inside line of the bottom frame allows the Label Holder to subtly belong to the artwork for a fluid description reading to viewing.

"Always ensure there is enough visual tension between the artwork and label holder, without crowding the work."

Artwork in golden frame, with related information displayed in an Absolute Label Holder.

O2 I In a display case

Display cases frequently have multiple viewing points for Label Holders: flat on the back wall, on the wall at a 60 degree angle, or freestanding directly on display shelves or base plinths. Here are some basic points to consider:


1. Allow the right amount of 'space to breathe'

Place the Label Holder close enough that it is obvious which item it refers to but not so close that it distracts. The object on display needs ‘space to breathe’.


2. Don't allow things to get too busy

Where there are multiple objects on display, avoid a ‘busy showcase’ effect of having scattered labels by placing all the information into one single Label Holder: a continuous line keeps the eye from being interrupted.


3. Make sure the object to which it refers to is clear

If it is not obvious which objects the Label Holder refers to, coin collections for example, then use small numbered acrylic blocks that reference back to the single label.


4. Get the height right

The information displayed should usually be at eyeline level or below, (approx. 1600mm), to assist easy reading and bear in mind wheelchair users and children when considering the appropriate height.


5. It's all about the angle

Label Holders flat to the back surface of the cabinet are best mounted between a maximum height of 1600mm and a minimum of 1000mm. Label Holders mounted vertically at a 60 degree angle are best mounted between a maximum height of 1200mm and a minimum of 300mm.


6. Don't get caught out by lighting glare

When placing a Label Holder on the base of the showcase with an angle to best present the information, it is important to bear in mind the reflected angle of overhead lighting and avoid reflected glare.

"Always consider your visitor when planning the label height. Eyeline or below is best."

Antique ornaments in glass case and related information displayed on a shelf edge label holder.

O3 I Other Settings/Conditions

Depending on the setting, or the narrative, sometimes the best way to use label holders involves bending the above rules slightly.

1. Creating movement using varying height
Style or movement can be created by alternating Label Holder height which can then greatly add to the narrative, for instance – Label Holders placed in varying heights establish a rhythmic feeling that can create the appearance of movement in an otherwise static military scene. Our Pinnacle Label Holders were used to just an affect at the National Army Museum.

"Sometimes it's ok to bend the rules to support your narrative or enhance a specific setting."

Pinnacle Label Holders displaying information for an exhibition at the National Army Museum.

An exhibition at the National Army Museum and related information displayed within Pinnacle Label Holders.
Weapons display in an exhibition at the National Army Museum, using Pinnacle Label Holders to display related information.

2. In large exhibition settings
When working with a larger exhibition space or particularly large exhibits, often the best way to display information is by using a larger format 'label' at the optimal visitor viewing point, this would be in the form of a reader rail. On each reader rail you can fit much more information, which might be appropriate to use for each exhibit if they are particularly large, or if it is a large space with multiple items, you can add the information about each item on the same reader rail. See below are examples of this method being used at the Pearl Harbour Aviation Museum has utilised our reader rails for their exhibits.

Reader rails at the Pearl Harbour Aviation Museum, containing information related to an exhibition.
Pearl Harbour Aviation Museum exhibition, utilising reader rails to display related information for an exhibition.

Looking for further advice about label holders?

Use the button below to contact us and discuss your space and how our label holders can help you achieve your goals.

Further Reading List

5 Exhibition Basics- Museums Victoria


Top 10 tips for curating exhibitions and displays - Curatorial Research


Posted by Jade Turner
20th January 2022

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