Blog

#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.

Antigone Now and the Power of Storytelling

Storytelling at its best can change the world.

This weekend, the ancient Greek tale Antigone is at the heart of an important dialogue about activism and empowerment. The Onassis Cultural Center in New York hosts the Antigone Now festival from October 13 -16, inspired by Sophocles’ tragic story of a young woman’s fatal choice between her personal ethics and the rule of law. Premiering a new performance by Carrie Mae Weems, Antigone Now explores contemporary resonances with this classical figure through visual and performing arts, family programs, and digital media. Antigone’s struggle puts our own Civil Rights movement and today’s interrogation of the judicial system and the role of law enforcement in American society into a human context that is millennia old. Her story reminds us that our own stories are part of a deep tradition of making a world for ourselves in which we don’t just survive, but we thrive.

The Festival also brings the much-needed light and the warmth of stories authentically told and shared in the form of a digital activism initiative called #iSTANDfor. Drawing from Antigone’s famed courage in standing for what she believed, #iSTANDfor encourages people around the world to share stories of what matters to them via their social media channels and a dedicated web site (http://www.istandfor.net). #iSTANDfor celebrates people around the globe whose individual and collective acts of heroism and bravery are changing our world for the better.

For those of us at the MuseWeb Foundation, the new initiative from the international Museums and the Web Conference, not only does the festival affirm our belief in the power of storytelling, it also reminds us of the importance of visual and performing arts in expressing those stories. At MuseWeb, we stand for many things—for inclusion, innovation, and democratic access to culture; for creativity, participation, and free and open data; for libraries, galleries, archives, public monuments and community cultural centers. We stand for museums and the people their collections and cultural knowledge are here to serve both today and for the millennia to come. MuseWeb is joining the #iSTANDfor campaign by showing our support and our belief that museums, both big and small, matter.

Please help us tell the world you stand for museums. Use the #iSTANDfor #museums hashtags on social media and tell us why museums are so critical to you in today’s rapidly changing world. Get our attention @museweb on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And, if you’re in New York later this week, the Antigone Now is free and open to the public at the Onassis Cultural Center New York (645 5th Avenue, New York, NY). Visit the festival website at http://www.onassisfestivalny.org. Find out more about the MuseWeb Foundation at http://www.museweb.us/about/.

Nancy Proctor is Executive Director of the MuseWeb Foundation, and Co-chair and Co-editor of MW’s international conferences and publications. She is a Classicist and Art Historian by training and has been inspired by the story of Antigone’s ethical stand for 30-some years.