Wednesday, March 21, 2012

MUSEUMS: Who bloody well needs them?

Museums today fill a different space in the imagination of people – especially people in the so-called developed world. With sites such as this one, and the myriad of others that fill the same kind of gap, who needs to visit a collection of dusty exhibits to satisfy their curiosity or even to spark it? Just who is going to a museum to stimulate themselves? Who is doing it more than every now and then?

Museums and art galleries operating on a 19th cum 20th Century model (mindset?) when colonialism was relatively fresh in our collective consciousness, and that celebrate the status quo, are arguably redundant. Children, by-and-large, are streets ahead of museum functionaries' thinking and very often are pretty much unimpressed by what they see in front of them. 

SOME people find new and unexpected ways to engage with these dusty places called museums – and sometimes takeaway interesting things. Likewise SOME museums and art galleries actively look  for ways blow away the dust and for new ways to engage with their audiences – children, students, researchers, citizens of all ages and cultural backgrounds, etc –and deliver culturally engaging  programs. 

Sadly too many museums and art galleries funded by 'the taxpayer' are loosing their credibility, their social license to operate, their sense of purpose, their vitality and whatever it was they once could rely upon to win the accolades of the communities they belonged to.

Albeit two quite different kinds of visitation, if your brain is hungry there is a choice of collections one might visit. For many they are just a 'mouse click' away and for others you may need to drive to town.

Jack Bauer

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