Untitled, 1973 or earlier, Bill Owens. Gelatin silver print. The J. Paul Getty Museum, gift of Robert Harshorn Shimshak and Marion Brenner. © Bill Owens

Everyone’s story matters. Make yours heard this month as StoryCorps visits the Getty Center for three days to record the memories of 18 special people. Inspired by the exhibition In Focus: Play, we’re inviting participants to reflect on what leisure and recreation means to Americans of different backgrounds, ethnicities, and generations.

We’re looking for great stories not only about favorite pastimes of childhood, but on how our attitudes toward leisure, free time, and play change as we grow. We’re also curious about your thoughts on visiting museums as a leisure activity– what was your first memorable museum experience? Does visiting a museum feel like “play”?

How Does StoryCorps Work?

StoryCorps is a living history project dedicated to the idea that everyone’s story matters. Working around the country, StoryCorps records interviews with people from all walks of life, structured as 40 minutes of uninterrupted time for meaningful conversation between two people who know each other. A StoryCorps interview is an opportunity to ask meaningful questions and preserve your stories for future generations. For the Getty project, we will ask participants to reflect on the ways they have played, as children and adults, and the people and places that have represented leisure in their lives. You can listen to clips of select StoryCorps interviews here to get a feel for the process.

Interviews will be held in a private recording studio at the Getty. At the end of your session, you’ll take home a high-quality CD of the interview, and with your permission a copy will be archived at the Library of Congress and excerpts published by the Getty. Excerpts from a very small number (less than 1%) of StoryCorps interviews are also played on NPR and a few are even animated, too! Participation is open to all (on a signup basis, see below) and entirely free.

StoryCorps interview featuring two African American men

Participants at a past StoryCorps interview. Photo: Rob Lowell, courtesy of StoryCorps

Sign Up to Participate

Who is special enough to participate in StoryCorps? You! Eighteen slots are available over the three-day period: mornings and afternoons on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, March 26, 27, and 28, 2015. Once you’ve picked a partner and confirmed his or her interest, please tell us about yourself here and we will be in touch by email after we’ve heard from you (give us a few days as we go through responses). You and your partner will both be part of the conversation, but we ask you to designate an interviewer and an interviewee.

We do expect more interest than we have available slots, but we will respond to you as quickly as we are able.

An important goal of StoryCorps is to represent people of all backgrounds and beliefs, which will be a factor in our selection. Speakers of English as a second or a foreign language are very welcome.

Apply to participate in StoryCorps at the Getty.

We hope you’ll consider participating if:

  • You know a special person whose memories deserve to be heard and preserved
  • You have a story to share about what play has meant in your life
  • You have a special memory of museums, or of the Getty
  • You or your conversation partner come from a cultural, ethnic, or religious community that is part of the fabric of Los Angeles history
  • …and of course, you and your partner are available to come to the Getty Center on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, March 26, 27, or 28

Visit the Story Exchange on March 28

If you’d like to share and hear others’ stories but can’t carve out the time for a StoryCorps visit, come to our all-ages Family Festival on Saturday, March 28, and look for the #StoryExchange booth, where you can enjoy a deep conversation with loved ones and total strangers in gameplay bursts lasting only a minute. Lounge on blankets picnic-style, unwind, connect the dots, ponder play-full questions and display your responses to share and compare. You’ll be amazed by what you can learn about others, and yourself, when you stop and really listen.