April 2023

A Poet, Wayfinding

As a complement to JME 48.1 Words Matter, we are pleased to share this blog post.

On the left, Toni Wynn has taken a whimsical photo at the Chicago Botanic Garden. She has become a part of the art and her head appears to be sprouting out of greenery. To the right is the cover of JME 48.1 Words Matter.
Left to right: Toni Wynn at Chicago Botanic Garden (inside an installation), JME 48.2 Words Matter cover

Part of our commitment to making the Journal of Museum Education accessible is to provide free access to one article per issue, supported by our partnership with our publisher Taylor & Francis. For the JME issue 48.1, Words Matter, our board selected the article “A Poet, Wayfinding” by Toni Wynn. In her abstract, she describes the article as a “lyric essay [that] responds to an inquiry of how being a poet influences my work as an interpretive writer for museums and cultural institutions.” We so enjoyed the format and contents of her writing, and hope it provides inspiration both for those who do interpretive writing as well as more broadly for potential authors of the various forms that the JME can take.

We asked Toni how she hoped readers might connect with her article, and she provided these (unsurprisingly) whimsical words:

  1. Perhaps when you’re prompted to ask someone to do something (for the greater good or for narrower purposes), you’ll fully consider what that person would appreciate being asked. And even if you don’t listen closely to the reply, you’ll support their journey through it, and thank them, and offer to share it if it’s okay.
  2. Educators open like flowers, petals attentive to the news on the breeze.
  3. May this essay move the reader to a fresh opening to whatever’s waiting for them, like hearing yourself think or squishing mud or picking up an instrument.
  4. April 27 is National Poem in Your Pocket Day. Be ready. [Note: I’m old-school on this and will carry printed poems I’ll give to people throughout the day. A good pizza place will put poems on their pizza boxes.]

An old, white cash register at a restaurant. The total has come to $7.69 and the MasterCard logo is visible on the base of the register, most likely to show what cards are taken. Underneath the register is a wooden sign that has been painted red that says, "it ain't food if it ain't fried."

Restaurant in Montgomery, AL. Photo courtesy Toni Wynn.

We hope you enjoy Toni’s guidance and all that her article has to offer. Happy National Poetry Month!


In the culture space, Toni Wynn supports anti-oppression initiatives and collaborates on visitor-centered experiences in public venues. She designed and facilitated transdisciplinary workshops at the Mapping Meaning retreat at Ghost Ranch, the Arts in Society conference in Paris, and at Museum as Site for Social Action (MASS Action) at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. She is a multiple-award-winner for her interpretive label writing, and co-creates interpretive plans as senior strategist with Brocade Studio. A Cave Canem poetry fellow, Toni has published in Black Nature; Mapping Meaning, the Journal; the International Review of African American Art, and other platforms. Toni works in site-based collaborations documented in journals such as Arts Education and the International Journal of Arts Education.

Michelle Dezember (she/her) currently serves as Director of Learning and Engagement at the Contemporary Art Museum Saint Louis. She is the President of the Museum Education Roundtable.

Toni Wynn (2023) A Poet, Wayfinding, Journal of Museum Education, 48:1, 10-15, DOI: 10.1080/10598650.2022.2149978