How to do it step by step
Choosing the right place
Before taking any action, it is important to analyse the pre-existing conditions at any sites identified during previous visits and/or discussions. The choice must meet the criteria of combining both local and MDG aspects in a way that makes it easy for the visitor to identify them and to establish the intended linkages. With this premise in mind, and taking into account the MDG to be covered (MDG 5), the local museum’s storage room for 19th and 20th century furniture was an obvious choice.
Once you have identified the precise location, you need to consider the type of installation to set up and then plan ahead. In our case, we needed to address the issue of reducing the maternal mortality rate and to establish connections between the local dimension of Loures and the overall issue of maternal mortality in so-called developing countries. We then had the idea of arranging a scene with a strong visual impact (silhouettes on the mirrors and the mosquito net), mixing different elements in the room to cover the local and global dimensions of a bedroom, and linking a 1930s bed (part of the museum’s local collection) to facts and figures on childbirth in so-called developing countries. The ambiance was set when photos and a traditional nest to give birth were added.
Note: It is important to draw attention to the problem and to avoid reinforcing stereotypes or transforming this installation into a theatre stage.
Get to work
What message do we want to convey? How can we deliver it in a clear and visual manner, providing visitors with information and data on global maternal mortality and, more importantly, making them understand what is at stake and stimulating further discussion? As the evidence shows, there has been a lot of progress as well as a few setbacks over the last few decades. Given that this complex topic encompasses a wide range of issues, which also link to aspects
covered by other MDGs, the team needed to come up with answers and suitable solutions to many of these questions.
Note: it is very important to test the message that you want to convey. Sometimes a message that is clear in our minds becomes less clear once it is applied in practice.
Successful implementation depends on a tight schedule, in which tasks are grouped together. While preparing the schedule, it is also necessary to think about and adjust elements that were not previously planned or considered.
Note: please do not forget to schedule inauguration dates for the different installations, bearing in mind the fact that tying the inauguration to a special day can increase publicity around the installation. In our case we chose Mother’s Day (in Portugal).
What materials are most suitable for conveying our message through the installation? When we talk about maternal health, we are talking about prenatal and postnatal healthcare, conditions in hospitals, women’s education, and a whole series of other factors that impact on childbirth. So, the installation focuses on women in labour, comparing local conditions for childbirth (in the recent past) with global conditions for childbirth (at the present time). An educational challenge/activity invites visitors to reflect on the multitude of factors linked to maternal health in all countries. Mosquito net: a simple mosquito net, placed above the bedroom’s king size bed to create a strong visual impact. Everyone can easily understand that something is out of context and that it is not meant to be displayed in this striking way inside the furniture storage room.
The poster/infographic, pregnant women silhouettes and sheet/leaflet include the following aspects: the type of information to be covered; background; facts and figures; additional information; a call to action; the link between the local museum and the MDGs; and photos.
Magnetic diamond game and supporting structure: This game is quite personal and there is no “right” or “wrong” answer. The rationale is to engage visitors, and to provoke discussion and further reflection. Visitors are asked to take a photo of their diamond which is filled with values and share it via the project’s official Facebook page.
All that we want to say and do
What should we say?
After identifying the type of installation to develop, and the place to implement it, it is necessary to dedicate some time to compose carefully the message to be transmitted.
The message had two possible aspects to it: we could either focus on the negative side and talk about death, or we could focus on the more positive side. So, we chose to look on the bright side by focusing on the number of lives that can be saved through a set of improvements in prenatal and postnatal care for women.
The collected data should be as accurate and up-to-date as possible. To achieve this goal more easily, ensure your topic is based on recognised sources with high levels of credibility, expertise and research. When you are addressing a topic like the MDGs, it is almost compulsory to consult the United Nations (UN) website. We have also relied on information from international organizations recognised for their work in the field of maternal health.
Once the data and information is collected, it is necessary to prepare statistical data for the computer graphics and more detailed information for the wording of the text in the support
materials, including the website and the web platform.
One of the team members (full time) wrote the draft contents, which was later shared, improved and approved by the rest of the team (four members/part-time).
Make sure you do this in a way that reinforces your partnerships and builds team spirit. Finally, use plain and simple language accessible to everyone.
Getting approval for the support materials
Silhouettes of pregnant women and message cards
Around the room in front of every mirror (six), we placed a silhouette of a pregnant woman, and placed accompanying information about MDG 5 nearby.
Net over the bed
Above the bed we hung a mosquito net. In this way, we are raising awareness on Malaria, one of the main causes of death among pregnant women in Africa.
This leaflet provides data and concrete information on MDG 5. It presents sexual and reproductive health as a human right and the role played by women in the social and economic progress of a nation. It also provides website addresses to encourage visitors to take action and to learn more about the subject. Also important is the connection between the local and the global level - in this case the bed and the way of giving birth in the Loures region. The leaflet is displayed in a special stand.
Another part of this installation is a magnet board game called “Diamond Ranking”. Visitors are encouraged to rank each statement on the board. The magnetic pieces have 2 sides. The pink side lists statements on maternal health, while the blank side lists statements on social justice. This allows visitors to rank two types of issues.
Visitors must place the most important statement at the top of the formation and the least important statement at the bottom. The second, third and fourth rows contain statements ranked in descending order of importance, with each row containing two, three and two statements respectively.
After they finish ranking the statements, visitors are invited to take a photo and to share it on social networks. In this way, we can easily measure the level of visitors’ engagement with this particular installation. Unfortunately, as no wifi is provided, the results did not quite match our initial expectations.
Totem display stand
Once you decide to produce a sheet/leaflet, you need to consider a stand for it. Our choice was a totem display stand, where the design of the top corresponded to the icon representing MDG 2.
Setting-up the installation on site
Once your support materials are printed and ready to use, you need to decide on the best way to set up the installation at the right location (previously discussed and approved). Do not forget to record through photographs the process of setting the installation up, and make sure everything is in order and that the space and the topic complement each other.
Initially, the pregnant women silhouettes were glued to the mirrors in the furniture storage room. Unfortunately, the glue was not strong enough to hold the silhouettes in place for very many days. So, the solution was to hang them directly on the mirrors.
In addition, we provided a reading sheet to convey more information on the traditional way that local women give birth and on the child and maternal mortality rates. The totem stand holding the respective sheets/leaflets is located nearby.
For evaluation purposes, two bottles have been placed nearby. One bottle is empty and has written on its label: "Place your vote"; the other contains pebbles that visitors can remove and place in the first bottle if they have appreciated the installation.
Publicity and communication plan
The project seeks to achieve the highest possible number of visitors, for which purpose a communication plan has been produced for each of the ten installations. This identifies key institutions, communication channels and the type of message to be transmitted.
Facebook Connected for a Better World
With a high reach in Portugal, Facebook is a powerful means of communication. Drawing on previous research done for the sheet/leaflet made it easy to create an “effective post” in advance to feed the project’s Facebook page.
It is necessary to understand the impact that the installation has on the media agenda. Nevertheless, you should still issue press releases, particularly to the local media.
To increase publicity around the installation, a flashmail was produced, which includes the poster image, a brief message on the specific topic, and a summary of the project and its sponsors.
Installations should be publicised systematically and, if possible, by all the project’s stakeholders and partners through their own (internal) communication platforms. In this way, the installation was widely publicised through the project’s official Facebook page, IMVF's website and the networks of our partners.
Inauguration of the installation
It is not always possible to be present at the inauguration. For this installation, we decided to organize a virtual inauguration, meaning that the project’s Facebook page was put to good use. A photo album presented the various elements that make up the installation. The inauguration took place on Mother’s Day.