26 treasures in 62 words

    26 Treasures

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26 Treasures paired 26 professional writers with 26 objects in the National Museum of Scotland, asking each writer to create a new 62-word label for a treasure in the museum.

For all the other writers, it was their first time in a museum so we were the odd one out.

It’s also unheard of for us to only have one label to write and to have the luxury of writing 62 words with no brief. We didn’t even have to punctuate properly...

Out of the 26 objects on the list, we were given the most modern - no Robert the Bruce or Bonnie Princes for us - instead, a bionic hand made in Scotland. It’s never been used and so came straight from the factory to the museum as part of its contemporary collecting programme.

So we decided to reflect on the hand’s apparent lack of history in comparison to the other objects and to ask visitors to reflect on why and how objects are collected by museums and how meanings are constantly changing.

This is what we wrote:-

i have
no past.

i was never
or treasured.

i will never
sew a suit
pluck a string
stroke a cheek

but nor will i
hold a gun
chain a slave
flinch in pain.

i am here
as a message to the future.
selected and collected
to speak about the present.

Will the future understand?