Whether the British Museum or the community museum down the road, the experience of visiting a museum is always eye opening.
Museums are some of my favourite places. We have travelled around the world, and some of my favourite experiences have been in museums. I’d like to take this opportunity to explain a little of why taking the time to visit a museum is rarely a bad idea.
Note: While I will keep saying “museum”, I am referring to the full spectrum of GLAM institutions. This includes Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums.
Museums open up ideas
Museums promote curiosity. A museum exhibit inspires interest in an area that you might not have thought about before, whether it’s an area of study, a period, or a concept.
The San Diego Museum of Man’s Cannibalism exhibit was brilliant, despite being something I had never thought of too much before. The exhibit posed questions and ideas about cultural taboos in a thoughtful way.
Museums are great social experiences
Exploring a museum with friends can be a great bonding experience, and a way to better know the people in your life. Talk about what you’re seeing, how you feel about it, find out if the other person feels the same. Share the experience of learning.
The shared experience of listening with others is not unlike the cultural rituals of communal eating. Music may not have the primal necessity of food, but it is something people commonly ingest together.
While Llewellyn Hinkes Jones was talking about music when he said this, the same goes for learning. Grab a few of your friends, or even just one, and head out to a museum.
Museums enable you to lose yourself in the moment
Some things that have a different sense of scale and meaning when seeing them in person compared to online. When staring at a screen you might be logical, seeing the image from an analytical viewpoint. Seeing the same thing in person at a museum allows you to get swept up in the history and scale of what you are seeing.
The Migration Museum in Adelaide recently opened an exhibit about the history of the location the museum is built on. The image below is part of this exhibit, showing how many babies were born there while it was a lying-in home. Online viewers have the freedom to be distant from it’s meaning, but being in the room and standing under this installation is a different matter. The exhibit is designed to give you an emotional change, not just an intellectual one.
Museums are a doorway to a city
Museums can be a great segue to a new city. There have been places where we haven’t been confident hitting the streets and exploring. The museums we’ve visited have acted as doorways to these new cities. Museums have helped us get comfortable in new cities, while also learning about the history. Museums are often easy to get to, so this helps expose us to the public transport system too.
Museum Selfie Day
Tomorrow (January 18th) is Museum Selfie Day. This is a day where you are encouraged to visit your local museum, take a gorgeous selfie, and post it to your social networks. I encourage you to if you get the chance. Museums are beautiful places, and they deserve for people to hop onto Instagram and say “this is my museum, I love it and you will too”.
If you do get to a museum tomorrow make sure use the hashtag #museumselfie, and make sure to tag the museum as well so they can see all your awesome photos.