Museums in a digital world: exhibition trailers

When I go to the cinema, I sometimes enjoy the trailers and film previews as much as the actual film being shown (and sometimes more – though last time that was entirely the fault of The Imitation Game. Still angry – see Alex von Tunzelmann’s piece). We’re used to seeing film and TV trailers, even trailers for trailers, but my favourite new development in trailer world is their use by museums.

Museums are starting to embrace our digital world, and some of those with the resources and funding to do so are creating incredible trailers for exhibitions. They bring a new element of entertainment to visiting exhibitions, and an element of expectation. While I’d hope entertainment has long been a significant aspect of visiting museums and their exhibitions, trailers provide a different kind of approach that gives style to substance and gives the objects or narratives at the centre of the exhibition new purpose – advertisement.

This is a fairly new approach for museums to take, and the ability to do so is of course significantly limited due to funding, but I really hope trailers mark a new and exciting step for museums in their outreach and in their creative use of objects. I’ve pulled together some of my favourite exhibition trailers here just to showcase the great things museums are doing. Please do add any others in the comments.

Wellcome Collection, ‘Institute of Sexology’ (also +10 points for ‘Undress Your Mind’ tagline)

Museum of London, ‘Sherlock Holmes: The Man Who Never Lived And Will Never Die’

Natural History Museum, ‘Mammoths: Ice Age Giants’

Manchester Museum, ‘Siberia: At the Edge of the World’

British Library, ‘Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination’

British Museum, ‘Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art’

Huge bonus: trailer from 2008 repping queer history with Hadrian and Antinous:

British Museum, ‘Hadrian: Empire and Conflict’


3 thoughts on “Museums in a digital world: exhibition trailers

  1. Reblogged this on History@Kingston and commented:
    Read and watch Kingston public history PhD student Claire Hayward’s great blog on how museums are using digital technology to entice visitors to their exhibitions by creating informative, innovative and witty film trailers to promote them. We hope you read the blog, enjoy the films and visit the exhibitions!

  2. Pingback: Exhibitions on Screen | exploring public histories

  3. Pingback: Museums in a digital world: exhibition trailers | digitalcollaboration

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