The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is celebrating it’s 75th anniversary on January 18th . They are presenting a series of exhibits (I saw the amazing retrospective from their collection yesterday!) and events to celebrate. Many of the events involve telling stories – by artists, collectors, cultural visionaries and community leaders.
According to their website,
The exhibition will be complemented by two related projects featuring visitors’ perspectives, the Oral History Project and Phone Booth. Since 2005, SFMOMA has been collaborating with the Regional Oral History Office at the Bancroft Library to create a record of its own history through video and audio interviews with individuals whose contributions have shaped the institution. Historical interview clips from the museum’s Oral History Project will be shown alongside recently collected commentary from SFMOMA visitors and community members. The Phone Booth captures visitors’ voices through an interactive phone installation; visitors are invited to pick up the phone and record responses to questions about the museum’s collection.
Arts organizations, non-profits and corporations are finding the most effective way to share information about their projects, products and history is to tell stories. They’ve discovered that it’s better to enlist people who have benefitted from the organization and have them tell about their relationship to the product or service than it is to have a company spokesperson trying to convince you of the same thing.
So, instead of the mining company coming out and saying how much you depend on their product, their ad tells the story of how many trees they planted to reclaim the land that they devastated all to convince you that they are responsible global citizens.
The idea isn’t new but the slant is. Stories are hot.
It’s up to us as creative consumers to hear the stories we want to listen to. I choose to enjoy the SFMOMA stories and to ignore (as much as I can) the noise of obvious propaganda.