#iStandFor Detroit History

Tony Daguanno
Tony Daguanno is a novice history buff and ex-instructional designer, born and raised in the Motor City.

What do YOU stand for? Tony Daguanno stands for Detroit history. His story is part of the #iSTANDfor campaign, created by our friends at the Onassis Foundation USA.

“Shakespeare used the phrase, ‘What’s past is prologue,’ foreshadowing the prospect of evils to come. The words refer to our past being the introduction to our present and future as, hopefully, a lesson to learn from. The past doesn’t necessarily dictate the future, it merely introduces the possibilities of it, as framed by our history.

We have to look at both the good and the bad parts of history to recognize the lesson, as we continue to pursue our next act. We can look at the our past and at once be proud and motivated to live up to standards set by great men and women who came before us.

Sculpture

Of course, it’s universal, not just a Detroit thing. But the ‘D’ is my lifelong home, and it’s one of those places that’s been recognizably knocked down a few pegs in the eyes of the world of the last half-century. Yet, that’s not true at all of the people here. Our history runs deep, with grand narratives that weave in and out of the country’s larger historical tapestry, as colorful and engaging as any Elizabethan play.

Detroit architectural detail

In my own simple approach, using accessible technology, I expose some of the city’s monuments, statues, historical landmarks and works of art, as catalyst to retell a few of those stories. These physical reminders of Detroit’s history are hidden among us in plain sight.

As a lifelong Metro-Detroiter, I’m willing to examine the other side of history once in awhile, too. The embarrassing stories that make us want to become better people. It may sting or get us angry but it sure gets our attention. Real life is like that. Real history is like that. So, everyone is welcome to follow the path I lay out for you among the D’s catalytic artifacts. There’s a story behind each one. And it’s forever where our new stories begin.”

Tony Daguanno is a novice history buff and ex-instructional designer, born and raised in the Motor City. His not-for-profit venture, Audio-D Tours L3C (audioDtours.com), produces free guided audio tours featuring points of interest in Detroit.

Why are Museums Important?

Have you told us on Twitter why museums are so critical in the modern world? Use the #iSTANDfor #museums hashtags.

“Without a doubt, I stand for museums. For the last twenty years, I’ve worked with museums and for museums—in roles as diverse as you can imagine—education, publications, marketing, exhibit writing, design, web and new media, collections care.

And, every one of those positions taught me something about myself, about other people, and about the importance of listening. A museum is a place where you can listen and think, reflect. My first full-time museum job was at a historic house, a monumental brick mansion built in 1773. My office was in the original kitchen, a well-worn space with pitted brick floors, a winding staircase, and the lingering smell of rosemary and smoke.

The small room was silent as a tomb in the early morning hours and was ripe for quiet contemplation. Sitting down at my old oak desk, I never forgot that real people had been there in that room—hardworking people who were almost always in motion, from the first light of morning to the last flicker of rush lights late at night. There was never a time I didn’t think about them, what they looked like, how they survived in the bitter cold and the sweltering heat, how they managed to go on after the numbing loss of children, husbands and wives, how they felt during the chaos that became the Revolutionary War and later the Civil War.

It was their house, and I was only a spectator, tasked with safeguarding their invisible legacies. I took that responsibility very seriously as I shared with visitors the personal stories of the people who’d lived and toiled in that stately house.

I stand for museums because they teach you that we are all keepers of memories, and that we are only passing through. Life goes on, despite political turmoil, despite war, despite whatever trend you’re following, despite the media. Life goes on, and museums have the evidence to prove it. That sense of continuum—displayed in millions of collections and buildings all over the world–offers me comfort that we will get through this moment, and that one day, the story of our moment in time will be shared for others to learn from and reflect upon.”

Heather Shelton
Digital Curator
MuseWeb Foundation

The #iSTANDfor initiative is spearheaded by the Onassis FoundationRead more about this important campaign.