Young Boy in a Museum

CURATING STORY

Curating the story museum: Transmedia practices, participatory exhibits, and youth citizenship

With Dr. Naomi Hamer.


Children's story museums have become distinctive venues for public awareness and critical engagement
with the representations and constructions of childhood; however, only limited scholarly work has focused
on these sites. This proposed research examines the children's story museum as a dynamic transmedia
platform for the design of participatory exhibits and critical dialogue. While many current exhibits affirm
idealized childhood representations, transmedia engagements (across old and new media formats) within
these spaces have significant potential for critical and subversive dialogue with ideological constructions
and representations of childhoods. Framed by participatory and activist museum movements, towards
'queering the museum' and 'decolonizing the museum', this proposed project will focus on the negotiation
of youth citizenship through emerging technologies in these spaces. From this perspective, we query how
current children's museum exhibits focused on childhood texts and cultures present opportunities to
negotiate, subvert, and/or reaffirm cultural discourses of childhood, nationalism, gender, race, sexuality,
and ability. The proposed research aims to harness the potential of transmedia storytelling with the
invitation for critical dialogue with childhood discourses across media. While museum education has
employed interactive media for visitor engagement, the inclusion of digital storytelling and transmedia
practices for critical dialogue and intervention is relatively new. Drawing upon theoretical and
methodological frames from museum studies and the field of children's media cultures, this project invites
children to engage as collaborative curators in the transmedia design of a pilot story museum exhibit
rooted in local rare books and archival collections including the Osborne Collection of Early Children's
Books, Ryerson University's Children's Literature Archive, Toronto, and Ontario Archives, alongside the
child participants' own stories and imagined narratives.


This project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada until 2021.

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