After collaboration with the Italian National Archive of Diaries in Pieve Santo Stefano, Arezzo, it was a natural thing to seek out the Italian American Museum while I was in NYC in March. On a lazy Sunday, I took a new friend down there and we saw a quick presentation, and then did the rounds on our own (during which I took the following photos). There are some great stories amongst the artefacts, and I found myself wanting to get involved with the museum, to help them really flesh out the treasures they have into a storytelling experience for the visitors… But you cannot do everything, can you?
Instead, I spent the entire walk home retelling the artefacts the way I would have told the stories, until my friend turned to me and said ‘Do you consider yourself Italian?’
Of course I don’t (not in any sense beyond being an ‘honorary local’ in Tuscany) and I actually wondered if she thought I was overstepping my boundaries and adopting a culture that was not my own, but she quickly told me that I seemed so dedicated to telling these stories as if they were my own, that it made her want to go and see the artefacts again in a new light.
I suppose my work in Italy has led me to consider history and culture some more, but I’d also like to think I’ve always been somewhat dedicated to finding the story. I wish the Italian American Museum were more dedicated to the stories within its exhibit and less to exhibiting a lot of artefacts at once, but like many small museums and cultural organisations, they are under budget constraints and run with the help of volunteers.
If you do find yourself in New York, take the time to go and visit this small collection, and maybe leave an extra moment or two to really appreciate the depth of story in this humble museum.
Tagged: museum, new york, new york city, ny, nyc, Photography, united states of america