Contemporary storytelling practice : a look inside the Portland Art Museum's Object stories
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The purpose of this study is to investigate how the use of contemporary storytelling practice in a museum setting can successfully engage visitor voices with objects. Specifically, this research used an exploratory case study to better understand Object Stories at the Portland Art Museum. The unique attributes inherent in Object Stories make it an exemplary program to research and through which to gain understandings regarding effective contemporary storytelling techniques within a museum. The use of digital archives, the creation of a safe space, and enabling visitors to share personal stories about museum objects are some of the qualities that set Object Stories apart from other contemporary storytelling programs in the United States. Four themes emerged through interviews, observations, and the study of documents forming a rich and detailed understanding of Object Stories. These themes are found within and help elucidate the successful characteristics of Object Stories. Based on the findings of this study, museum educators can look to this interactive gallery space at the Portland Art Museum to help them develop or enhance storytelling programs, and ultimately to improve the development of empathetic connections between visitors and museum objects.