Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

Cultural story-telling

Young visitors to the Australian National Maritime Museum. Source: ANMM.

Gina Fairley, Why storytelling is the essential skill for culture-makers, ArtsHub, 10 July 2015

Accountability is driving galleries and museums to become more aware that storytelling is at the heart of everything they do.

As humans we are hardwired to find meaning, that is to understand our place within the bigger story. This connection museums and galleries have been doing well for decades. But in recent years the search for meaning has been recast as the search for story. Simply, storytelling is hot.

One catalyst has been the need for our museums and galleries to be more accountable to their funding public, requiring them to explain what they do in a format that connects to societal goals. A second is that technology has allowed a more democratic hands-on engagement with cultural material, but more importantly, has also handed over that storytelling experience so that is has become a shared domain.

How that is shifting what we make and what we show, how we collaborate and how we brand ourselves as cultural professionals, is a new frontier constantly redefining itself.

But this new territory need not be daunting. ​The storytelling tradition has been around for millions of years.

British entrepreneur and Co-founder of the global Remix summit series, Peter Tullin, said that while storytelling is hardly a new trend within the cultural sector it is being ‘shaken up, disrupted by the digital revolution.’

Walkley award-winning journalist and broadcaster Antony Funnell shared Tullin’s view. ‘Open access digital tools allow us to get our stories out there – it’s changing the physicality of the museum,’ he observed.

CEO of the Australian Museum Kim McKay agreed. She says that they are in the business of telling stories. ‘We have a collection of 18 million objects, so storytelling is central to everything. Building the narrative, that is where the curator and storytelling come together,’ said McKay. ‘One thing I want to do long term is turn into our own media enterprise, to be my own channel, my own platform to tell stories through video.’

Read more (may involve paywall)


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