FANTASTIC FOUR# 52 Jul 1966, First Appearance Black Panther, Collection of John A. Vasquez
Dear Members of MANY’s Museum Community,
In my junior year of college, I took my first art history class. When we arrived at Chapter 8 of Janson’s History of Art “Early Christian and Byzantine Art,” I was completely lost. Christian art had not been included in my life experience. In multiple visits to museums I learned the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution of the story. In the process of learning how to decode the narrative art, I also learned that good storytellers shape their message to the medium in which it is carried.
From the origin of human language to oral traditions, from the walls of cathedrals to highway billboards, from the written word to the printed page, and from comic books to Hollywood films, storytelling has evolved and adapted in tandem with our tools of communication. The twin pandemics of Racism and COVID-19 are driving the need to change the ways museums tell stories as well as the stories that are told. We could all use some remedial study time to learn and share stories about the people of our state and our nation that weren’t told to us when we were young.
Museums are creating and maintaining exhibitions displayed in physical galleries and in virtual spaces. If museums were not working in digital media before the pandemic, they are now telling stories with the technology at hand whether their audience is in their buildings or at home. It may soon become less important how we tell our story as long as we leverage the power of narrative to engage our audiences with the familiar and the unfamiliar.
I’d like everyone who reads this letter to think about how their museum could tell a unique, authentic story in a digital or virtual media that reveals cultural and racial diversity within their communities. We are accepting applications to participate in Building Capacity, Creating Sustainability, Growing Accessibility through October 30th. If you are interested, but need more information, or perhaps a bit more time to submit the paperwork, please reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org
We also need you to tell the story of your museum and how it has been impacted by COVID-19. The NY State Senate’s Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee is accepting written testimony through November 11. Please let committee know how your museum has been affected by the pandemic. Send your testimony to email@example.com. My testimony that was delivered live on October 21 is included in our October newsletter and can be watched here; I start at 1 hour and 12 minutes into the roundtable, after the Bronx Zookeeper talks about the Sloth.
With thanks for your support,