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

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:

  • Click here to read an interview with Adina Langer by Oakland Cemetery programming GRA Parker Hilley. Adina Langer and Marcy Breffle spoke as part of Oakland's Sunday in the Park Event on September 25, 2022.
  • Storytelling in Museums authors Adina Langer, Deitrah Taylor, Mary Fernandez, Rebecca Melsheimer, and Lois Carlisle presented a panel entitled "Storytelling in Museums: On the Frontiers of Ethics and Engagement" at the Georgia Association of Museums Conference in Cartersville, Georgia, on January 19, 2023, at 9:00 a.m.
  • On April 13, 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 presented a roundtable conversation entitled “Public Narratives: Storytelling in Museums.” A version of this session will be reprised at NCPH Virtual  Conference "To Be Continued"on October 5, 2023 at 1:00 p.m.
  • Adina's article was published in the "Viewpoints" section of the Spring 2023 edition of Museum magazine called "The Stories We Weave: Storytelling in museums can be a tool of liberation."
  • The American Alliance of Museums released a webinar video featuring Adina Langer, Colleen Higginbotham, and Gina Wouters, called "The Who, What, and Why of Storytelling in Museums."
  • Adina Langer lead a discussion about the book for Museums Today, a program of the George Washington University Museum on Wednesday, November 29, 2023, at 6:00 p.m. EST.
  • The Department of Museums, Archives, and Rare Books at Kennesaw State University hosted a symposium on storytelling and multicultural collections in museums on April 20, 2024. 
    • Take a look at some pictures featuring book authors at the symposium!
      Patrice Grimes, Lois Carlisle and Kathy Dixson

      Sarah Litvin, Benjamin Filene, Adina Langer, and Rebecca Melsheimer

      Adina viewing rare books

      Anchoring conversation panel

      Patrice Grimes, Rebecca Melsheimer, Benjamin Filene, Sarah Litvin, and Lois Carlisle

      Storytelling Symposium Anchoring Conversation with discussant Floyd Hall