Six Awesome TED Talks About Storytelling

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Fun Stuff May 20, 2016 Featured Image

We love TED Talks.  The ideas and passions that shine through them inspire us, and they are a great tool for inspiring creativity among museum staff.

Museum Hack’s consulting work focuses on telling better stories in museums, and we recently looked to TED for inspiration.  We’ve rounded up some of our favorite TED Talks about storytelling below.  Watch them to uncover how your museum can use objects and curiosity to create successful audience engagement.

2600 Years of History in One Object

Can one object reveal a major part of our shared history?  Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, reveals 2,600 years of Middle Eastern history in this incredible talk about how the story of one “press release” can reveal the stories of many.  Watch the entire talk in the video below:

Attention: the New Currency

The digital era has ushered in one of the greatest dilemmas facing museums: attention spans.  Competing with mobile technologies and the ever-increasing distribution of information, museums must capture and keep audiences’ attention… but how?  Sree Sreenivasan, Chief Digital Officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, discusses how we can address this challenge. Watch the entire talk in the video below:

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ‘Useless’ Art

Don’t like ceramics? Neither did Luke Syson, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Then came one day when he learned to love, as he termed, “useless” art.  A powerful talk about how stepping out of our comfort zones can foster unexpected museum experiences and personal revelations.  Watch the entire talk in the video below:


Can improv improve your museum’s educational programs?  Yes!  As advocates for utilizing improv during museum tours and events, we absolutely loved finding this talk by Jen Oleniczak, founder of The Engaging Educator.  She looks at how improv-based workshops and professional development can improve our communication and connection with audiences. Watch the entire talk in the video below:

Our Year of Mourning

Rainey Tisdale is a museum curator who seeks to make meaning from things, including emotionally charged objects and stories.  Two years ago, she worked on an exhibition that commemorated – and defined – Boston in the wake of tragedy.  Her talk provides insights into how museums can address the heart of community needs and reveal multiple layers of meaning through objects.  Watch the entire talk in the video below:

The Value of Curiosity

Museums are meant to be spaces that inspire curiosity.  Emily Graslie, Chief Curiosity Correspondent at The Field Museum and host of The Brain Scoop on YouTube, discusses how incorporating curiosity and the joy of discovery into the stories that museums tell provides unexpected ways of connecting with the public while demonstrating the value of natural history – and museums.  Watch the entire talk in the video below:

Want more great museum ideas?  Check out five more TED videos we love.

written with 💖 by Museum Hack

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