Storytelling in Museums Book

 

Released in July 2022 from AAM Press/Rowman & Littlefield. Click here to learn more and to order your copy! If you are interested in ordering a signed copy directly from the editor, please email artiflection@gmail.com.

With chapters written by a diverse set of practitioners from across the museum field and around the world, Storytelling in Museums explores the efficacy and ethics of storytelling in museums.

The book shows how museums use personal, local, and specific stories to make visitors feel welcome while inspiring them to engage with new ideas and unfamiliar situations. At the same time, the book explores the responsibilities of museum practitioners toward the storytellers included in their narratives and how those responsibilities shift over time and manifest in different contexts.

The book’s eighteen chapters represent a conversation among a diverse set of professionals for whom storytelling connotes their daily museum practice. As educators, collectors, curators, designers, marketers, researchers, planners, and collaborators, the authors of this book consider the “real work” of storytelling from every angle. From the inclusion of personal stories in educational programs to the meta-narratives on display in exhibitions, this book balances practical examples with ethical considerations, placing the praxis of storytelling within the larger context of the 21st century museum. The book moves beyond advocacy for storytelling as an essential part of the museum’s toolkit to explore the many ways in which museums use personal stories, and multiple storytelling techniques, to support the larger public narratives embedded in their missions.

The contributors demonstrate how museums that emphasize storytelling from multiple angles can serve as a kind of counterpoint to our tendency to fixate on singular images of things we know little about. They encourage museums to both acknowledge that they cannot control the narrative and to embrace their power to contribute to it through the multivalent, multivocal stories they choose to share.

Want to learn more? Check out these opportunities to meet the authors and hear about the book:

  • Meet Adina Langer, Marcy Breffle, and Mary Margaret Fernandez at Oakland Cemetery's Sunday in the Park festival on September 25, 2022. Click here for more details! And click here to read an interview with Adina Langer by Oakland Cemetery programming GRA Parker Hilley. 
  • Storytelling in Museums authors Adina Langer, Deitrah Taylor, Mary Fernandez, Rebecca Melsheimer, and Lois Carlisle will present at panel entitled "Storytelling in Museums: On the Frontiers of Ethics and Engagement" at the Georgia Association of Museums Conference in Cartersville, Georgia, in January 2023.  Stay tuned for more details.
  • In April 2023, at the National Council on Public History Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, authors from the Museum of History and Holocaust Education, James Madison's Montpelier, the 9/11 Memorial Museum, the New Mexico History Museum, the Reher Center for Immigrant History and Culture, and the Boston Children's Museum will present a roundtable conversation entitled “Public Narratives: Storytelling in Museums.”