Museums are Memory Palaces


Museums gather the scattered memories of times and places long gone.  They are best called “Memory Palaces.” 


Museum docents -- as they lead us from room to room, exhibit to exhibit — are threading a way through a labyrinthe for us.  They are the Greek heroine, Ariadne, and her long thread that lead us safely through a sttrange realm that disorients us and challenges us.  Too many objects, too many labels, too many scholarly notes are as dangerous to us as the Minotaur, that mythical bull that guards the underworld of the past and its memories.

art gallery docent

It is Ariadne and her thread that leads us through the labyrinthe and organizes all the diverse details into a powerful story.  Like her, the museum docent creates a beautiful Memory Palace where all the scattered facts and objects are shaped into the beautiful rooms of an enchanted palace.  And at the end of the tour, we emerge with a story that ties everything together. 


 The American Center for Storytelling and Narrative Art provides training and consultation services for museums, art galleries, historical societies

Please contact me if you have questions or comments. 

Dr. Robert Béla Wilhelm

© Robert Bela Wilhelm 2017