The Tooth of the Matter

As the seminar comes to a close, we end our museum visits on a transitional notion.

The International Spy Museum gave us a look at pulling everything they had, prior knowledge, outside knowledge, and the desire to implement those categories into future knowledge.  How did what they know and what they learned meet at a confluence for writing that next chapter in their story? And how does that translate to us?

We all come from different backgrounds, different places, different interests, different museums, and different passions. Our stories are results of what has happened and what is happening, crafting the narrative for our next story after this seminar.

We all have plans and designs and ideas for what happens next, but as the Spy Museum showed, sometimes that changes and one must adapt, but that doesn’t mean the core narrative has to change, maybe just the word choice or the size of the page you have to tell your story.  With an experience like this, the opportunity to pull from other narratives, stealing other techniques, and reinforcing your own story with knowledge from another becomes central to moving forward.

On Monday, I’ll be back at the National Museum of Dentistry, and Jaws’ “infamous teeth” were a somber and exciting reminder of that.  Now, I am at the transitional moment, reflecting and growing from the stories I’ve heard and been apart of these two weeks.  I get to go back with 23 new individual stories influencing my decisions, thought processes, and choices, which not only will shape my own story, but the story I am privileged to tell at my museum.

Thanks for the stories.

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The new model is concise.

How do you summarize thousands of objects, and millions of stories into 50 words?

This is the struggle modern museums face while adapting to the phenomena of the digital age. Minimizing word usage while increasing content, creating a clear and concise message that speaks volumes while barely speaking at all. The importance of clarity is driven by the element of time, and the competition for attention. Finding the right words to say can be the difference between staying or leaving. Between entrancing and boring.

Finding the right words to say can spark the fire of exploration or drown you in the waters of inaccessibility on one and inundation on the other.

The National Air and Space Museum turned their museum into 100 terms, and is looking to trim that count down to 50. The National Museum of African American History and Culture strives for 75 words or less to accompany their objects on exhibit. The National Museum of the American Indian strategizes by thinking of an exhibit without words and building from that point to incorporate the right words to tell their story.

Is 50, 75, 100, or even 150 words enough? Can a story be told without words? Can it be told through emotions evoked and visuals viewed?

Can a museum grab your attention with bold conciseness and encourage deeper delving into a script behind the word?

That’s the new model.  The new test that can only be graded through trials and time.