Storytelling in Museums Book

Cover design by Chloe Batch. Cover image: "E Pluribus Unum," by Rebecca Warde, The Montpelier Foundation, 2017. Photo by Chris Danamayer, ProunDesign

Like so many folks in creative fields, a silver lining of the past two years is showing through for me in the form of a pandemic project. My pandemic project's roots go deep, to the summer of 2015 when I first started working at the Museum of History and Holocaust Education (MHHE).  From this new vantage point, and with a strategic plan that included the creation of a new permanent exhibit based on personal stories of Holocaust survivors, World War II veterans, and home front workers from Georgia, I reached out to the robust, international network of museum folks on Twitter to see about putting together a panel discussion at the 2016 AAM conference in Washington, D.C. Our topic would be the ethics and efficacy of including personal narratives in museum programming.

Responses came from colleagues I knew from my time in New York City, innovative thinkers I'd met at previous AAM conferences, and a talented new acquaintance from a world away in Australia.  Our panel, "Out of Many, One: From Personal Stories to Public Narratives," was a success, but I didn't want to leave it there.  I knew there was more to explore. 

As I worked on new exhibits at the MHHE between 2016 and 2020, the sapling that sprouted from the roots of that "Talk Show" panel thickened and accumulated rings. The trunk of an idea grew more robust, and in a moment of inspiration, I decided to submit a book proposal to AAM press that November. 

Now, almost two years later, Storytelling in Museums will see the sun next month. With contributions from dear friends and colleagues from as near as Atlanta, Georgia, and as far away as Casablanca, Morocco, the idea grew eighteen branches (chapters) ready to drop seeds into the fertile imaginations of people already in the museum field as well as those whose curiosity has just been piqued. 

I know, I've stretched the tree metaphor a bit too far, but I'm really excited about this book and deeply grateful to the 22 authors in addition to myself who worked with me over the past two years to shape and prune their ideas into something beautiful and inspiring and solid. Like the Bonsai tree that it is, this book has been a labor of love.

A Bonsai tree in Washington, D.C., December 16, 2018 by Julianibarra

There will be more to come, but for now, please consider pre-ordering the book for yourself, for your students, for your friends.  I mean, who doesn't want a collection of essays published by a professional/academic press?  Seriously, though, you won't be disappointed.  These authors are brilliant and they have so much to say. Each chapter provides a glimpse into a deeper body of work and a network of relationships across communities. This book is a fractal that won't leave you disappointed.

'Nuff said for now. See you next month!


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