The Intangible Museum: Common Threads

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för globala studier

Author: Steven C. Beck; [2012-06-27]

Keywords: ;

Abstract: An exhibition can be more or less effective; however, museums today have to use other channels to address their communities and create other opportunities to activate the participation of their audiences. A successful museum will solicit the visitor’s participation and engulf them in the experience. If museums are to meet their responsibility as places of learning then museums need to incorporate different ways of teaching their audience. They should also find new ways to incorporate creativity and human forms into the museum experience. One way to do this is through the use of storytelling and oral histories, which offer a personalized and very individualistic perspective by participants of events, like no other branch of science can.There are innumerable museums across the globe, all with a different history, mission and story. One common trait; however, is that the museum itself is in the field of storytelling. The objects they select to display tell a particular story, individually or societal. More interesting is that, just as there is a new mathematics, new science, new biology, and new physics – there is a new museology that exists today.Museums everywhere face the challenge of presenting these objects to an audience in an interesting and educational way. Storytelling provides a type of medium to achieve success in this process. Below I will examine and defend storytelling as a learning opportunity and explore the impact they may have as a pedagogy tool in museums, by creating relevance and learning through shared, personal experience.Second, I’ll look at why museums should use storytelling to reach learning objectives. Here I’ll discuss the general reasons for choosing storytelling as a pedagogy tool and the impact it may have on learning in museums.Following this discussion, I contrast the question of museum space with the pedagogy tool of storytelling in an effort to understand how storytelling can be envisioned to better educate the museum visitor and provide a more memorable experience. Third, I combine the strengths and difficulties of utilizing storytelling in a case study of the MythStories Museum in Shropshire, England. I’ll examine just how an “Intangible Museum” functions and the benefits which storytelling provide. To support this case study and the preceding information I’ll look at how storytelling has been used in and around Museums the past 20 or 30 years. I’ll explore shared ideas and museum works with varying storytellers. I’ll conclude my paper by arguing that storytelling should play a fundamental part of education in museums across the globe and how they can be packaged to raise awareness and ensure audience learning.

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