Storytelling for Museums

Storytelling in museum galleries creates a synergy between art and language.  I tell stories that reveal the narratives depicted within the artworks from the museum's collection. Paintings, sculpture and artifacts spring to life in the context of the stories, myths and legends they depict.

In another approach, some museums invite me to tell stories that respond to the theme or ideas underlying a specific museum exhibit.

By actively engaging in a response to the art and the stories, audiences broaden their perceptions and enrich the experience of their museum visit.


Recent Museum Programs

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

● "Radiant Light: Stained Glass from Canterbury Cathedral"
Performance of Chaucer's "The Pardoner's Tale" as part of a day-long symposium.

● "Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age"
A performance of "Enuma Elish," the Babylonian Creation Myth, for family audiences.

● "Viewpoints: Body Language"
A Conversation with Griffith Mann, Michel David-Weill Curator in Charge, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, exploring how the biblical narrative of "The Visitation" communicates from a range of perspectives. (Click here to view this program.)

● "Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River"
Programs for adults and for families celebrating the stories and songs of flatboaters in the 19th century.

● "Turner's Whaling Pictures"
A program of readings for adults, exploring connections between Turner's whaling scenes and Herman Melville's 1851 whaling epic "Moby-Dick."


The Blanton Museum, The University of Austin, TX

● "Natalie Frank: The Brothers Grimm"
Performances for the museum's "Perspectives" series for adults featuring selection of stories depicted in Natalie Frank’s drawings of the tales of the Brothers Grimm. This performance emphasized the stories as they appeared in the first edition, with darker tones than the later revisions.  In addition, programs of Grimm's tales for school and family audiences.

● "The Crusader Bible: A Gothic Masterpiece"
The Blanton commissioned the creation and performance of a story detailing the fascinating history of the 12th Century Crusader Bible's travels through Europe, Asia, and America. 


Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT

● "The Speckled Bull: Irish Wonder Tales and the Visual Imagination"
A performance and lecture for adult listeners.

● "Constructing Meaning: A Teacher Institute"
Co-director (with Linda Friedlaender and Patricia Darragh) of an annual summer institute exploring applications of visual literacy in grades K-12.


Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD

● "Heroes: Mortals and Myths in Ancient Greece"
Stories from Ancient Greek myths and epics for a family festival.


The Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT

● "The Jason Tapestries"
A public performance of the myth of Jason and Medea, performed in the museum's Morgan Great Hall, against the backdrop of the tapestries from the Gobelins workshop.


University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA

● "Maya.2012: Lords of Time"
Stories from the Mayan "Popol Vuh" told for student audiences.



Lively and engaging.

“Tom Lee is extremely successful at providing context to the artwork.  His sources are monuments of world culture and his presentations are lively, engaging and thought provoking. ”

— Mike Norris, Director of Family Programming, The Metropolitan Museum of Art


Scholarly and compelling.

“The carefully crafted story held our Austin audience enthralled. The performance was a wonderful blend of scholarship and compelling storytelling.”

Ray Williams, Curator of Education,The Blanton Museum of Art.


An expansive experience

"How lucky for us, and for our visitors, that they have this kind of expansive museum experience!"

-Amy Hufnagel, Director of Education, The Olana Partnership