‘Rachel Morris is one of the smartest storytellers I have ever met … a wonderful and beguiling book’ James Rebanks, author of The Shepherd’s Life
‘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.
. 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.
Every once in a while you get sent a book to review that you are so glad you serendipitously discovered. This might be because you fall for its sense of place, its subject matter, its voice– or in the case of this book – all three at once! I was delighted to be asked to join the Blog Tour by Anne Cater and I’d like to take this chance to thank her for all the hard work she does for bloggers and all the books she’s introduced to me through #RandomThingsTours
I love a book that overturns all my expectations, but this unusual and creative book certainly does. It really appealed to me even before reading it as I loved the concept behind it. The fact that I love museums and especially have missed visiting them during the lockdown also increased the amount I enjoyed this complex and inspirational read
We all have all spent time wishing we could go back in time and discover our ancestors in the past, as they lived their ordinary life before we were ever thought of. Whether you are sentimental or not, the curiosity we feel about family history can definitely be an overwhelming feeling. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of such a personalised museum and I really felt like we were able to access the impact that this can have – filtered through these experiences and it was described so evocatively I really felt like I was experiencing it through Rachel Morris’ eyes. From searching for traces of her absent father to exploring the secrets of her grandmother’s past, we are drawn through these ‘spots of time’ right alongside her – what could be more unexpected than finding an exhibit from your own life? I loved the way that she explored the museum of her own past and shows us how we are all at heart collectors and how we might start to curate our own lives for those who will be coming along in our future.
This novel allows us to follow her back through the fragments of her past and discover all the complex events that led to her present day life. I was really intrigued to find out more about her life and the way that her family’s past cast dapples of light and shadow on her present. It is interesting to find out that our family’s past experiences do not have to define us – which certainly added an extra dimension for me as I read. I became engrossed in all of the overlaying stories and thinking about the unspoken motivations behind them and often found myself lost in thought about the other stories that ‘might have been’ that we didn’t have time to discover…
Morris is such a skilled writer that she subtly asks us to consider why these characters from her past might behave the way they have with a light touch, and this allows us to build our empathy for them the more we read on and find out their stories – whilst reflecting that everyone ‘walks their own path’ on this life’s journey.
I would like to thank Anne Cater for a copy of The Museum Makers to read and review and for inviting me on the tour. It makes me so happy to meet books through my blogging that I might otherwise never have read and I love sharing my views with others so that they might get the chance to pick up something different and love it too.
I Really enjoyed reading the post on Random Things Through My Letterbox about Rachel Morris’ Life in Books.
Writer On The Shelf
A director of the museum-making company Metaphor, Rachel Morris has been part of the creation, design and delivery of some of the most exciting displays, renovations and museums of the last few decades, from the new Cast Courts at the V&A and the Ashmolean, Oxford to the Terracotta Warriors at the British Museum and Grand Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
Rachel is also the author of two novels.