Storytelling: bringing art to life

In a digital age where people are reached by all sorts of information, how can museums and heritage institutions capture the attention of potential visitors? Creating engaging & appealing stories for diverse audiences while maintaining the integrity of the exhibition can be quite the challenge.

How can you develop engaging stories that spark interest in potential visitors?

Traditional approaches to describing art and cultural heritage can be quite factual and ‘boring’—consisting of dozens of dates that will quickly be forgotten. In order for your stories to have a long lasting effect, they must connect with the visitor on a deeper level; you must grasp the attention of the listener.

But how do you do that? The answer is simple: tell stories that trigger the emotions of your visitors. When people are emotionally connected, they will remember the value of your message and automatically get more involved.

# 1 Know your visitors—who are you telling your stories to? Storytelling is more than telling stories; it’s about listening to stories of others.

Let’s take a look at this short story about the painting Children teaching a cat to dance (1660-1679, Jan Havicksz Steen), taken from “ The Rijksmuseum for children tour”

What a noise in this painting. A girl is playing a reed pipe, a type of flute, but it sounds pretty false. The children scream and laugh and a pan is about to fall to the tiled floor. Clatter.... The dog barks, but who is loudest? The poor cat, he has to dance...’

# 2 Creating relatable stories is key! When your audience relates to your stories, they identify and engage.

Here ’s a nice example taken from the Archeon - Roman Era tour.

‘This is the Latrina, the Roman toilet. So, come on, take a seat above a hole! You see it’s a bit different that what you’re used to. First of all you’re sitting together with many people. This way you can gossip and trade a little bit while you’re busy. Secondly you don’t see a way to flush the toilet. But that did happen of course!’

# 3 Spend time investigating current developments, trends and technology to build the most immersive experience. Be relevant.

The information is available to everyone, but it’s how you deliver it that matters. The combination of education and entertainment can create a brand new and exciting user experience!

Want to know more about engaging storytelling? Take a look at our video course.