Libraries or Museums?

by admin on 24 February 2018

Where are the best sources of stories for storytellers? No doubt we each have our favourites.

Are they libraries?

Or are they in museums?

Personally, I find museums can offer more stories than Aesop, Lamb, and all the others put together.

All you must do is look for them, winkle them out, and invite them to fly.

They can be found hiding in unexpected dark corners.

They can be found in the glare of spotlights.

They can be found locked away in glass cabinets, unable to feel the air like they once did.

They can be seen hung on walls, Helpless and unable to escape.

They can be found mounted on pedestals, open to 360-degree scrutiny, unable to have any privacy and yet unnoticed.

They are all fixed, immovable. They are unable to stretch their legs, unable to exercise and unable to communicate with the people who have come to see them.

Our duty as storytellers is to seek them out, to release them, to let them spread their wings and fly into the air and sun, that they once enjoyed.

Now, I recently had the opportunity to explore storytelling at the Ashmolean Museum.

You don’t have to go to a posh, internationally renowned museum, to find them. You can find them in any collection of old artefacts.

What caught my eye this time were two exhibits that showed entirely opposing views on death and religion.

Was one a collection of finds found in a saxon grave. This was evidently the grave of a rich woman. It was not a large collection, a gold belt buckle, silver hair pins and an ivory hair comb amongst others. The story, when it was unravelled, reflected the love and remembrance with which her husband, placed the items in her grave……

The other was a collection of medieval ‘holy relics’.
Phials of the blood of saints, bones of the saints, splinters from the ‘one true cross’. Some were contained in the most ornate and expensive gold and jewelled boxes.
Manufactured to be sold to gullible pilgrims, to be owned and displayed by religious monasteries and the like, to attract pilgrims and to improve their turnover and standing in the religious communities. All done without any love or reverence, only greed.

The wealth of storytelling material is enormous. The opportunity to enhance the museums visitors experience is incalculable. With it the opportunity to bring people back for multiple visits is vast.

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