FORGOTTEN STORIES CAN BREATHE NEW LIFE IN MUSEUM OBJECTS
By Frank Teichert, Curator, Archaeology and Human Remains, DITSONG: National Museum of Cultural History
There are several different ways that stories are told and passed on from generation to generation. We as humans have stories, our lives are a story, whether it has happened or is happening now or it’s still going to happen, human life is a story. To help us with our life stories we use objects.
Humans use objects every day of their lives for a million different reasons even though we don’t realise it half the time. The objects that we use tell the story of who we are and what we are. These objects can be used for a specific function or they can be used for a multitude of functions, but nevertheless, they tell a story. These stories could be exciting or mundane, sad or happy, destructive or constructive, ancient or new, religious or spiritual, or anything you could imagine. The stories could be about the necessity or luxury or the value or sentimentality of any given object. The objects that we use in our daily lives all have their uses and functions but apart from those uses and functions the story of why and how we came to use them and what the connection is to our life story is, may never be known unless we ourselves make it known.
The objects that are found in museums all have stories and we may or may not know what their functions were, but we do not know the story of who used them, for what purpose did that person use it and why or how the object landed in the museum. We will never know the answers to these questions and that is unfortunate as the knowledge of the stories behind the objects is lost forever.
However, all hope is not lost for these objects, as they live on in the museum. The stories of their existence are carried on through those of you who experience these objects in the museum. By experiencing these objects new stories are created whether the person imagines their own story about who might have used the object or if the person tells the story about the object to others after what was experienced in the museum. By seeing, sensing and experiencing the objects that many might never get to see in their original context or countries, these objects live on.
How the stories of these objects are taken forth depends on you, the visitor.