Stories in Museums: Google Hangout with Dan Spock

Posted by on March 25, 2016 in TechMuse Blog, The Museum Learning Experience | 0 comments

Stories in Museums: Google Hangout with Dan Spock

Yesterday Mary Maher, editor of the Association of Children’s Museums publication Hand to Hand and I had a fun Hangout with Dan Spock, Director of the Minnesota History Center Museum and all around museum innovator.  We’re using the Hangout to generate content for an issue of Hand to Hand coming out in May focusing on uses of stories as a way of connecting with visitors.

I’ll post the video of the hangout below — it’s about half an hour long.  Apologies ahead of time for the extreme reverb on my microphone. (Also I’ll shave next time and will sit further back from the camera. Lessons learned). One point that sticks out to me after the conversation with Dan — the power of designing environments that have an “affordance for storytelling”.


If you want to pick and choose sections, you can drag the slider to some of the timecodes below:

  • 02:30 – the matter of voice and authenticity
  • a mindshift toward shared authority
  • 05:35 –  Daniel’s Story exhibit (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum)
  • immersion – become part of the story, you’re in a place full of tangible things
  • 11:00 – Open House exhibit – discover stories of families
  • people continually doing “me and them” comparisons
  • if a museum environment is rich, people are likely to riff on themes
  • if visitors are telling a lot of stories, it’s a positive experience
  • 14:50 – designing for visitors to riff on exhibits
  • familiar contexts of elicit memory
  • Mary: sharing via photos/video/social media
  • 19:20 – Dialogues in the Dark exhibit
  • Science museums can tap into a vein of untapped human drama
  • Art museums: how is artwork woven through a person’s life?
  • 25:50 – Children’s museums: Teen Tokyo example (Boston)
  • Leslie Bedford: “Same but different” message in Teen Tokyo
  • bridge from the familiar to the strange
  • 28:00 – visitor research in Open House exhibit: people are toggling between “this story…my story…this story…my story…”
  • Designing more broadly – not specific learning outcomes, but more for serendipitous and idiosyncratic outcomes
  • 31:30 – potential for children’s museums incorporating stories
  • if things work well for children, they most often work for adults
  • not just “hands on” but a “story on” approach, creating a context for stories
  • Bruno Bettelheim; stories as machines for putting together your moral universe
  • unplowed ground in museums, a lot of possibilities

I’m hoping to post another video or two (with better microphone) as we explore the topic…


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