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Object Stories is a personal storytelling project and exhibition series hosted by the Portland Art Museum. Upon launch in 2010, Object Stories became a first of its kind in the museum field and continues to innovate today. The project has grown the application of storytelling with objects from a way to interrupt the traditional authoritative museum voice into a platform where Portland and the Pacific Northwest’s many communities can directly address issues affecting their lives. Object Stories helps drive the Portland Art Museum to become a safe and responsive space open for dialogue, conversation, and the exchange of ideas.


Object Stories thematic exhibitions change three to four times a year and are accompanied by a rotating selection of multi-sensory activities and “calls to action.” The exhibition themes are chosen for their relevance to our local communities; as well as our ability to extend or create new working relationships with partner organizations and individuals across our community. For each exhibition, five to six community members participate in a Storytelling Workshop to learn about the craft of storytelling. Storytellers can extend their participation in the project by collaborating with the museum on many aspects of the exhibition including creating exhibition texts, gallery interactives, and programming.

Object Stories are available as audio visual slideshows on iPads in the gallery next to their storyteller’s objects. Stories are also available online through museum’s YouTube channel*, and as story soundbites broadcast during the exhibition on the museum’s social media channels. Stories are recorded and edited by the museum and distributed with the storytellers’ final approval.

* Please note, the Museum is in process of transferring stories recorded prior to March 2014 onto our YouTube channel.