Museum of Marco Polo

Celebrating Museums And Imagination 2020

Postscripts to the Storytellers’ Complaint/The Storytellers

23rd August 2013

More debate amongst the Museum of Marco Polo staff on the role of stories in museum-making;  and specifically, what happens when we try to take the over-arching narrative out of the museum.  So, two after-thoughts.

The first is that if we group objects together visitors automatically assume that they are connected and accordingly will invent a narrative that links them together.  It’s the same process that makes film a story-telling medium:  when a number of images unfold, one after another, the viewer assumes they are telling one story. This happens regardless of the musem-makers’ intentions.  Visitors, it seems, want a big story.

Secondly, there is a quote from ‘The Rehearsal’ by Jean Anouilh, the 20th century French dramatist, which goes as follows –

‘Life is very nice but it has no shape.  The purpose of art is to give it some.’   (Jean Anouilh)

I thought it said it all.