What is a museum and will I like it? Author and illustrator Emma Lewis answers in this playful and colourful tale.
In ‘Museum of Me’ the main character, a young girl in red is told that she will like museums, but she doesn’t really know what one is. After visiting museums of history, art, space and the natural world, she learns that despite her presumptions, museums aren’t so easy to define. They are not just ‘big buildings filled with the oldest and oddest things from around the world’ but they can also include new things or ideas which help evolve our world.
Emma Lewis’ illustrations put the girl at the centre, both as the visual focus point but also through its playful style. In a child-like manner, cut-outs, drawings and textures are placed on flat coloured or patterned spaces. With an infant’s charming sense of humour, people wear scribbled on glasses and out of proportion shoes. What we see is the girl’s record of the exhibits and visitors each museum she visits, where the art museum promotes originality and difference and the Museum of Ancient Artefacts encourages study.
Lewis’ depictions of buildings bring in surreal elements too. A smile is placed on top of an office block (perhaps to mock city advertising) and the windows of a bus shows us not what’s inside but the sky, to represent the girl’s day dreaming.
At the end of the story the character’s final destination is the museum she knows best – her own room. Full of her favourite things we spot themes, colours, shapes and objects which match each museum she visited. It’s an unusual interpretation but it raises the point that museums don’t all fit into one box.
The book encourages the reader to think of the varied museum space as a place of excitement and inspiration. It can be anything and you can view it in whatever way you choose.
This sentiment is furthered by the book’s activity pages, which asks children to list what they collect and asks them to invent a new museum. So if at the end of this book a reader still thinks museums aren’t for them, maybe the right one hasn’t been built yet.