My understanding of museums is rooted in the art world. I’ve studied how those museums came to be and expanded and changed over time. Specifically I’ve studied the exclusionary practices of those museums and the current reckoning their are having with their role with continuing colonizing ideas. i’ve spent a lot of time asking who’s perspective is being overlooked or ignored in the conversations happening within museums both in the past and sadly still, in the present day. As much as I love visiting museums and the noble goals they claim to strive for, because of this background, I currently have a somewhat negative idea of what a museum is and stands for. However, I am hopeful of a more equitable and inclusive museum. A continuing struggle when studying museums will continue to be an acknowledgment of the harm and destruction done around the world in the name of conservation, as well as a reckoning of the intersectional power dynamics on which museums were built.
When defining what a museum is, I think it can be really hard to find the proper wording to make everyone happy. I enjoyed the Chapter One reading because it showed how these definitions of museum changed and were challenged which really prove that point. Part of the reason its so illusive to definition is because of how broad of a field it is. There are museums around the world that deal with so many subjects and artifacts and cover a range of timelines, are run at various scales and attract very different clientele. I think it’s hard to define a museum of science, history, art, and a museum of oddities in the same sentence that acknowledges their similarities and the differences adequately. That being said, I do agree with most of the people in that fun little video that the common thread running through all, is there ability to teach and be catalyst for inspiration. Museums have a wonderful way of connecting people and have a great opportunity to be very inclusive if they listen to voices that might normally be overlooked. Museum have the opportunity to be inclusive and engaging to all ages of people, and because they are generally thought of as institutions of learning, they also have a responsibility to be inclusive to those who are differently able. Many museums have listening tours, but an inclusion of brail tours or areas where touch is allowed, accessibility of ramps and elevators, even online virtual tours, which many have had the opportunity to explore this year. These multiple sensory experiences can end up helping all people and in these ways, museums can educate and inspire more minds. All that being said, I think my favorite term for a museum is the cabinet of curiosities. It’s such a mysterious term that could be hiding any number of magical things. Ever since I first learned the term, I’ve taken to calling my apartment my cabinet of curiosity because it is my own little world I created, filled with art and nick-nacks and photos and plants the terms just seemed to fit. Below are two photos of my favorite museums I’ve explored. The first is a photo of the library in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the second is the Musee de Orsay, a modern art museum in Paris built in an old train station.