Translating and Typesetting The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide

When The Metropolitan Museum of Art produced a completely reconceived and rewritten guide to their encyclopedic holdings–the first new edition of the guidebook in nearly thirty years–they turned to Eriksen Translations to translate and typeset this 450-page publication into six languages: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, and Japanese.

The Challenge

The Guide covers almost 600 essential masterpieces from the Met’s vast collection. Many of the Western world’s favorites are represented: Rembrandt, Vermeer, Monet, and van Gogh. It is also a good tool for navigating the less-familiar waters of the ancient arts of Egypt, Greece, Rome, and Asia, as well as works from Africa, South America, and Oceania. Musical instruments, arms and armor, photography, drawings and prints, costumes, and modern and contemporary art: every department is represented. This required a translation team with detailed knowledge of art history spanning more than five millennia and the entire globe.

Almost nowhere is accuracy more important than when dealing with objects of both religious and cultural significance. Given the Met’s reputation as one of the world’s most prestigious museums, every detail in these publications needed to meet the highest standards.

Our Solution

Eriksen assembled a team of expert translators with knowledge spanning virtually the full range of art history to address the variety of subjects covered in each Guide. A robust review process was developed that made it easy for the museum’s curatorial team to provide input into key translation decisions. A similar process was established for reviewing layouts, allowing the Met to provide guidance on the preferred treatment of text.

To manage this complex project and ensure that production ran smoothly, Eriksen’s team implemented a project tracker, accessible by all staff at the Met and at Eriksen. This tool promoted a true collaborative process, allowing the Met to view timelines, share files, provide feedback, and ask questions throughout the life of the project. The ability to take such an active role and to see real-time progress helped the Met to plan an efficient printing and production schedule.

Results

By tailoring the process to serve the client’s needs, Eriksen helped the Met ensure that their unique publication maintained the highest standard of quality. This publication has become an indispensable volume for lovers of art and art history, and for anyone who has ever dreamed of lingering over the iconic works in the Metropolitan Museum’s superb collection.