ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – The Museum Makers by Rachel Morris
It’s my stop today on the blog tour for The Museum Makers by Rachel Morris. My thanks to Diana Riley for asking me to be a part of the tour and to September Publishing for the proof copy of the book for review purposes.
‘Without even thinking I began to slide all these things from the dusty boxes under my bed into groups on the carpet, to take a guess at what belonged to whom, to match up photographs and handwriting to memories and names – in other words, to sort and classify. As I did so I had the revelation that in what we do with our memories and the stuff that our parents leave behind, we are all museum makers, seeking to makes sense of the past.’
Museum expert Rachel Morris had been ignoring the boxes under her bed for decades. When she finally opened them, an entire bohemian family history was laid bare. The experience was revelatory – searching for her absent father in the archives of the Tate; understanding the loss and longings of the grandmother who raised her – and transported her back to the museums that had enriched her lonely childhood.
By teasing out the stories of those early museum makers, and the unsung daughters and wives behind them, and seeing the same passions and mistakes reflected in her own family, Morris digs deep into the human instinct for collection and curation.
You can get your own copy from Hive.
The synopsis of The Museum Makers tapped into that part of me that is fascinated with family history, both my own and other people’s.
Rachel Morris is a museum maker, responsible for some amazing displays and museums. One day, after a chance visit to a museum that stirs something within her, she is compelled to pull out from under her bed various boxes of family items and papers that she hasn’t looked at for years. This prompts her to pull all the threads together, look at her family’s past and collate it as she would for a museum collection. I think there’s nothing quite like exploring family archives and I enjoyed this aspect of Rachel’s journey very much.
The book combines family stories with interesting facts about museums, both large and small, both British and further afield. For me, it was the family stories that stood out, that engaged me the most, that made me consider just how much of the past stays hidden and how little rises to the surface for future generations. It’s so important to record them if at all possible.
Morris has an appealing writing style and I found her tales of her gran, mum, dad, and other family members so absorbing. This is an informative book for anyone who has ever visited a museum and wondered how all the artefacts found their way there. It’s also the perfect read for those who like delving into social history. It’s quite a short read but it’s absolutely packed with detail to enthrall the reader.
I am a writer as well as a founding director of Metaphor, a museum-making company that has worked all over the world. My new book, The Museum Makers, is about time and memory and museums. It is also about the ways in which we are all museum makers as we struggle to make sense of our pasts and our memories. And so it is part detective story, part quest, part hymn to the strange, addictive magic of museums. Before The Museum Makers I had two novels published (you can see them listed here).