Story+ 2022 | Curating and Integrating New Visual and Sonic Experiences

Story+ 2022 | Curating and Integrating New Visual and Sonic Experiences

The Curating and Integrating New Visual and Sonic Experiences Story+ Team spent 6 weeks curating, researching, and digitizing many of the musical instruments in the Duke University Musical Instrument Collections (DUMIC). Our goal was to tell the stories of the musical instruments in our collections and to show how physical objects can reveal complex webs of stories involving different kinds of people, places, and activities. The undergraduate students evaluated the instruments in the collection to determine which instruments they should feature in the museum space and on the website. The instruments on display before this project were mostly of Western origins, which led to the decision to majorly renovate the museum to better fit the goals of DUMIC and the work being done in the music department. By choosing to do this renovation, we faced questions such as: How do we display and position Western instruments with non-Western instruments ethically? What kinds of stories can we tell about the non-Western instruments when details of their specific histories are largely unknown? How do we approach aspects of those stories that have problematic details, such as its acquisition by anthropologists and the materials of which it was made? Once the instruments were chosen, we sought to find as much information on them as we could to educate the website viewer of its maker, social/historical context, and musical context. A large part of this work consisted of finding photos and videos of the instruments being played and making our own photos and recordings. When possible, we interviewed those who have interacted with the collections through donation, performance, or conservation for further understanding of a specific instrument or collection. These interviews with Professor Lex Silbiger, Professor R. Larry Todd, and Mr. John Watson are featured on the website as podcasts. Our website showcases the instruments of the collections to give the Duke and Durham community a way to interact with and access the interesting instruments in our collections. We are hopeful that this insightful website will bring more awareness to DUMIC!

Check out the site here:

Project Sponsor(s): Roseen Giles, Assistant Professor of Music, Curator, Duke University Musical Instrument Collections

Graduate Mentor(s): Hannah Krall, PhD Candidate, Musicology

Undergraduates: Peter Petroff, Elaine Guo, Abby Johnson, David Tierney

Story+ is a 6-week summer research experience for Duke undergraduates interested in exploring humanities research approaches (archival research, oral histories, narrative analysis, visual analysis, and more). The program combines research with an emphasis on storytelling for different public audiences. In Story+, students are organized into small project teams and have the opportunity to participate in a flexible mini “curriculum” on research methods and storytelling strategies. Team projects may be led by Duke faculty, Duke librarians, or non-profit organizations, and will be supervised on a day-to-day basis by graduate student mentors.

Thumbnail photo credit: Elaine Guo and the Duke University Musical Instrument Collections (DUMIC)