Designing Museum Experiences: Storytelling for Museums: A case study

Giorgia Vitiello

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis aims to explore the use of storytelling in museum experiences and to confront this approach with the literature on museums, experiential marketing and storytelling.
The limited literature available on the subject made the need for such exploratory research apparent. Thus, this thesis is based on a case study strategy, focused on the design project of the M9 Museum exhibition experience realized by Storyfactory, a professional storytellers company. This was done through semi-structured interviews with Storyfactory’s professional storytellers and the M9 Museum head-curator and a participant observation taking place during the design of the M9 Museum exhibition experience. They were conducted to better understand the meaning of storytelling in the museum context as well as how it can be implemented. Unlike the previous researches on this topic, this thesis is informed by a phenomenologist perspective, which aims to understand a social phenomenon from the very actors’ perspective. By combining the existent literature with the case study’s findings, this elaborate attempts to answer the following research question: How can storytelling be implemented in museum experiences?
The research results revealed that storytelling can be used as a tool to design museum experiences, and, as such, it consists in creating narrative paths around and through the exhibitions’ content. Its purpose is to create experiences that are immersive, emotional, memorable, educative, entertaining and easily understandable, without trivialising the content. Furthermore, this approach puts the visitors at the centre of the experience, in the sense that all narrative elements are decided taking into consideration the visitors’ characteristics and that different narrative paths are designed to respond to their specificities. The process to implement such a storytelling design is made up of eight phases: 1- Receiving materials; 2- Reading the reader; 3- Looking for narrative cues; 4- Network analysis 5- Core-story identification; 6-Creation of a visual imaginary and individuation of a media habitat 7- Identification of different visit paths; 8- Project delivery. This study’ s main limitation lies in the fact that it was conducted with only one company of professional storytellers and specifically revolves around the project developed by them for M9 Museum.
Based on the findings, museum managers may be able to choose weather to opt for a narrative approach having had a better understanding of what it means, of which method to implement and of its pros and cons. The present study expands the knowledge regarding museum innovations and the application of experiential marketing and storytelling in this context.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2017
Number of pages160
SupervisorsTrine Bille