Narrative to us is the invisible idea, information or story that can be told within any display, exhibition or museum. Narrative shapes stories and can be symbolized by objects that seem to have their own narration themselves. As narrative can influence the ideas of visitors as well as it can draw social attention to topics and communities, therefore comes with a high ethical responsibility. Our conversation does not lead to a conclusive definition and therefore is to be understood as a consideration of many different ways of working with or understanding narrative.

Steffen Backhaus, Mamdouh Froukh and Friederike Eden, 2021

When museum experts from different parts of the world meet, they are united in their profession but might face difficulties in exchanging ideas and expressing intellectual concepts, due to various forms of meaning associated with words which are not spoken in their native language. Even when this common language is shared, it may not necessarily be the first language of all the participants. Since the team's choice for this article was to hold a conversation in English, it quickly became clear that a field such as museum studies, and its related intellectual and linguistic constructs, have been shaped and molded by the English language.
Once these interpretations are accepted and invoked, participants can understand each other, but may fall into the habit of simply repeating definitions postulated by literature, and therefore they can become a closed group that is isolated from visitors. However, different views become apparent the further one deconstructs these 'common vocabularies'. A discipline such as museum studies and its related fields, therefore, has a hard time meeting the needs of museum staff from different societies, with diverse understandings of tangible and intangible cultural heritage as well as knowledge worth preserving. This includes culture, education and leisure activities.
Especially in museum-theory some crucial vocabulary is used quite broadly. Therefore we decided to have a conversation about understanding, use and the difficulties the term NARRATIVE can bring in the field of museums studies. Noting and sharing the first 100 Words that came to our minds about the term, served as a prelude to a joint conversation in which we reflected on the term NARRATIVE. The transcript of this shared reflection formed the backbone of our article.

We agree that narrative is subjective...For me, a good curation approach gives the visitors the ability to create their own narrative or to reflect their own experience, but this interaction should be under the main narrative that is decided by the museum.

Mamdouh Froukh, 2021

I would refer to this as 'meaning' rather than narrative. The making or individual creation of meaning is what museum visitors inevitably do when they come into contact with objects and it is influenced by all its surroundings.

Steffen Backhaus, 2021

At a certain point one must choose which narrative is good for the story you want to tell and which to leave untold... Therefore, I also find transparency very important when it comes to exhibitions and the choices curators must make.

Friederike Eden, 2021
Created in Sharjah 10/2021 by Huda Alteneiji and Friederike Eden