Picture your last visit to a museum. You probably walked the halls, quietly studied the art, read the labels for more information, maybe talked to someone about your interpretations. But what if an exhibition invited you to contribute your own voice, building a story to be continued by visitors yet to come?

Students in the spring 2016 Museum Studies Seminar wanted to find the point of convergence for these varied experiences in one exhibition. In Tell Me a Story, labels and panels were replaced with prompts aimed at inspiring visitors to write stories and contribute drawings that captured their responses to the artwork on view.

When standing in front of Jennifer Bartlett’s The Four Seasons: Autumn, observers were asked, “Is the artist trying to tell you a story in this artwork? Or can you make up a story even better than what she intended?

The questions elicited recollections of dogs, philosophical musings about life as a puzzle or a game, and cartoon drawings of what happens next in the scene.

Miranda Rosenblum, ’18, a Museum Studies student, says, “A lot of times museums are sterile places where you look at art and say, ‘Someone thought this had lots of value, and I’m looking at it because that’s what culture is.’ Our exhibit tries to break down that fourth wall and engage visitors, saying, ‘What about this piece or work inspires a story in you?’”