Living collections serve different purposes. Depending on if its for education or research. Whether it is to help plants or animals that may be exposed to extinction, so they can regrow or repopulate. To be placed back into their natural habitat or learning how to link plants to humans for medicinal purposes or even preserve them for food or construction. As always there are problems that come with taking care of a collection. A lot also has to do with cost and funding, finding space to hold the collection or being able to get the right location to make sure pollution is kept under control. The funds to acquire staff and activities to try and make the collection more engaging by displaying the plants in or animals in an engaging way,

Housing living collections, which are zoos, arthropod zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, seed banks (and more) come with complications and challenges. Such as keeping the organism alive, making sure they have the right lighting, sunlight, temperature, humidity, oxygen and making sure that some animals or plants quality of water is suitable. These are all a big factor in keeping the collection safe. Living collections need different shelving, display management, permits and in some cases, food depending on the facility. The price will be more because they are actively needing to be maintained and cleaned.

Various museum curators believe living museums are an antidote to museum fatigue. Some Living Museums use reenactments to tell the history or story of a place. These museums rely on docents and props to make it seem as if you were visiting that place in time. They come with complications as you may not always have a person to play a role, someone could get hurt, your lighting could go haywire, microphones cut out or accidentally misinterpreting a historic event.

I thought I should share a quote pulled from Jay Anderson Living History: Simulating everyday life in living museums, as I thought it relates to why museums run: “There is an underlying message of hope in these projects: if we can understand how mankind managed to travel from the past into the present, perhaps we can also imagine how we are going to move from the present into the future. It is an appropriate theme for people engulfed by Alvin Toffler’s Third Wave (1980).” Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave (New York: William Morrow, 1980).

My question is do you think certain living collections play a more important role than the other and Why?

One Thought to “Complications in living collections”

  1. Korovin Ellis

    in general i don’t like placing value judgements on things like this sense the end goals are not necessarily directly comparable. collections intended for educational purposes are not the same as collections intended for research, collections of plants are not the same as large mammal collections but they can all serve a purpose. Instead in my mind the thing that makes a particular living collection important is the standard it sets for other collections of the same type in terms of its ethics, the nature of its research questions, and how it informs the public.

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