Storytelling and Museums

Reflections on the Future of Museum Storytelling

Question 1: Is the traditional museum unwelcoming to large portions of our society? One quotation from the text that stood out to me was “just because we open a door, it doesn’t mean that new and diverse communities will feel welcome”. This is important to acknowledge because it signifies that more action must be taken to create a welcoming environment and disentangle museums from their traditional or historical contexts, often rooted in class and privilege. While the door may be “open” to all members of society, many may feel unwelcome due to reasons such as being from socioeconomic, academic, or cultural backgrounds that are underrepresented in museum communities. It makes us wonder what ways we can foster museum experiences that are fruitful and enjoyable to all members of society.

Question 3: How can we best reach underserved communities? I was really intrigued by the idea of MICRO Museums. While it is easy to think about how to encourage people to come to the museum, we often overlook ways in which we can bring aspects of a museum to the people. I previously interned for Design Museum Everywhere, a nomadic museum based on Boston that focuses on bringing exhibits, programming, and activities to communities (mainly around Boston). This brings into question whether a museum necessarily has to be tethered to one physical location. What are the benefits of breaking up a museum into smaller, more portable spaces? How does this allow for more engagement and participation from all kinds of people and communities?

Question 5: How can we design community-first exhibits? My takeaway from this question was that the community needs to be included in all stages and aspects of creating an exhibit, from beginning to end. I am curious about the extent to which existing museums collaborate with communities when creating exhibitions. I think this would aid in lessening the sense of hierarchy that exists between curators/directors and visitors. Maybe co-designing exhibits can be a possible solution to Question 1, creating a more welcoming space to all members of society if they feel more represented within museum processes.

Can You Apply Transmedia Storytelling to Museums? There were many aspects of this reading that I think can be applied to our project. One of the main aspects that I think is relevant to my group’s project is the concept of choice. The audience should have a choice regarding the content they want to consume, as well as the level of participation they want to have with that content. This allows us to cater towards different kinds of visitors: those who prefer a more passive experience, as well as those who are seeking a deeper engagement with museum exhibits. Our project focuses on the notion of prompt and response as a means to facilitate interactions and connections between visitors while simultaneously encouraging them to build a deeper understanding of the exhibits. We have started to consider ways in which we can give them choices regarding the level of engagement they would like to have, such as by having different devices include different activities. However, another option is to include multiple prompts on one device, allowing even more freedom for the visitor. Like the reading suggests, our prompt and response devices must also have a sense of coherency and consistency across the platforms to create a sense of ‘brand visibility’.