On March 14, 2018, the George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art broke ground in Los Angeles. The museum states that it will offer a one of a kind museum experience, when it opens in 2021, focusing on narrative and celebrating storytelling through art.
Narrative Art involves telling stories through various works and mediums such as classical paintings, comics, film, theater, etc, with a focus on how artists capture these stories.
The concept of narrative art has roots as far back as hieroglyphics, and in all honesty, it shouldn’t be a novel concept in museums. Storytelling is essential to audience engagement with objects and material. Everything from tours to educational programs, to labels, should have a bit of a narrative thread that effectively engages the audience through the stories they tell.
Narratives in museums may come from artistic expression or intent in a piece, visitor interpretation (such as VTS), or interpretive lenses that might draw upon many contexts that are social, political, religious, etc. Whichever form a story may come in, it is the power of narratives that help the visitor connect to the content.
Narratives must involve a structure, from the rising action, there must be a climax, or an “aha” moment, and some type of resolution or conclusion. In museums, the climax, or “aha” moment is a primary goal of interpretation. It is an important aim to have the visitors reach a moment of realization, connection, provocation, or if we’re really lucky, a transformation in their frame of thinking.
According to the website of the soon-to-be Lucas Museum, the collection will consist of paintings, illustrations, comics, and films, which provides an abundant platform of media to act as various entry points into narratives for diverse audiences. Perhaps this museum will act as a resource and a means to inspire more museums with various media to engage with narrative art in their interpretation practices.