Dog bust bookend

On Feb. 5, 2014, friends, colleagues, and some new acquaintances met at the Gallery Cabaret in Chicago for the very first That Belongs in a Museum. Stories were shared, precious objects were shown, and we collected photographs and audio recordings from this and subsequent events. After some thought, we started to see our event as a special kind of exhibit; the objects were only “exhibited” for a few minutes each, and each person who spoke during the event was a curator for the time they told their story.

This site houses the collection of catalogs from our events, and you can view all of them here.

How to Participate in That Belongs in a Museum

Want to participate in That Belongs in a Museum?

Read this first.

  • Come and listen! Everyone is welcome to join us, even if you don’t have something to show-and-tell about.
  • But if you do have something to share, read on.
  • Bring a thing with you. It should be able to fit through the door and it should probably fit on the stage. It could be imaginary but we suspect that might just be weird.
  • Presenters are chosen at random. There is a chance that you won’t get chosen. You will probably get chosen.
  • You have five minutes to talk. You can talk for less than than five minutes. In fact, we strongly urge you to talk for less than five minutes.
  • Here’s what you should say:
    • What you brought, even if it is obvious.
    • Why you think it is neat.
    • If you could summon a genie to put it in a museum–any museum–even if you had to make a new kind of museum for it to go in, what that would be.
  • Once you are done we’ll take a picture of your thing and put it on this website so you can send a link to your mom.


What should I bring?
Really, it can be just about anything*. Take a look at our previous catalogs and try not to bring something that someone has already talked about–even though we love dog bookends.

*just a few guidelines: please kindly refrain from bringing any potentially hazardous or illegal materials, including firearms, explosives, or anything that is likely to start the zombie apocalypse.

Does my story have to be funny?
No, it doesn’t. Stories that make us laugh, cry, or just a good everyday story are welcome.

Do I have to be a good storyteller to present something?
There’s no need to have any storytelling experience to participate, in fact we love short, unrehearsed stories. Just get up on stage and say what moves you (in 5 minutes or less of course).

What kind of imagined museum should I come up with?

Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • The Museum of Books that have been Dropped into a Bathtub
  • The Museum of Childhood Fears
  • The Skeleton Key Museum