METM09 presentation     Thread: Promising practices

Translating for art museums and galleries: strategies for avoiding common pitfalls

Joanna Martinez — Spain

Styles of art -“ and architecture -“ can be both international and deeply rooted in a particular place and culture. While experts may recognize the variety of ways a particular style or architectural structure is referred to in translated literature targeting the general public, even educated lay readers of tourist and museum literature may become quite confused if they find these concepts described in misleading language.

This talk will look at some of the principles to remember when translating or editing texts on art and architecture. It will suggest ways to make the job easier and the final result more accurate. In passing, we will look briefly at some of the language associated with art and architecture in Spain. Translating art requires creativity and inspiration, but also a down-to-earth approach to tackling terms and concepts with precision.


Joanna Martinez has been working for over 20 years in Spain as an in-house and freelance translator from Spanish and Catalan, after a seven-year stint at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London and abroad. She has translated some 20 books on art and architecture for UK, US and Spanish publishers, as well as numerous exhibition catalogues and audio guides for art museums and galleries. Her other specialisation is corporate law.