Being the museum nerd that I am, I’ve relished this first week of the Museum Studies seminar and the opportunity to visit museum after museum, focusing on the museum as an institution and the way they tell stories. How is this different from a typical museum visit? The actual content is floating around the periphery of our visits, but really not a main focus. In fact, in some of these visits I’ve hardly focused on the content at all!
Over the weekend I had to take a break from the seminar and go to work. This weekend was my museum’s annual volunteer appreciation event. I was originally a little bummed that I had to work, but it was interesting to go back into that world with my storytelling hat on. Let me tell you, I could see ways that storytelling can be incorporated everywhere in the museum! My colleagues are wonderful and analyzed one of the speaker’s storytelling abilities with me. In a conversation with a tour guide, we discussed the tips and tricks of giving highlights tour of the museum. Highlights tour are notoriously difficult at this museum. Natural history content does not lend itself to neatly organized tours, and the sheer number of visitors make simply navigating the museum, getting a group from one place to another, very difficult. This tour guide’s technique to keep the group engaged is a strategic use of transitions. Now I am going to observe one of his tours to see if he incorporates storytelling elements in these transitions.
While this seminar has been physically tiring, it has also been invigorating and inspiring. Jumping back into work mode briefly gave me the opportunity to think about practical ways to bring the things we’ve been learning throughout the seminar to work.