Friday, 24 December 2010

Museums need to enter the 21st Century

Museums in the 18th Century and Before

I'm not a museum expert, I love the things, I never miss the opportunity to enter one and gaze at the exhibits and the stories behind them. Always using my imagination to think about what it was like for the people back then, what would they think of our world just now.

But when the Museum industry started to take off it was for the express purpose of bring the exhibits to the people. Allowing the people to use their imagination and learn about not just the past, but the past that effected all of us.

The most famous and large museums were, of course, found in the capital cities of all the major countries. People would flock to them, well when I say people I mean those either living in these cities or who could afford to get there and more importantly people who wanted to see them.

Countries "borrowed" relics from other countries. Take the Elgin Marbles, its fair to say without Lord Elgin taking them the world may have lost an amazing part of its history, however now Greece is a 21st C entry Country, should they not have them back? We'll I'm not caring either way, I just want to point out at the start of the Museum craze it was the big boy stole from the little boy.

So we now have Museums all over the world with relics from all over the world. Sometimes they put them in exhibits with other relics from the same area, to give us a feel of the place they were taken from.

Museums move into the 20th and 21st Centuries

I was in New York recently where, of course, I headed to the New York Met. I seen some of the most amazing art pieces in the world. Then I came home and spoke to my son about it. I spoke long (I could tell cause he looked bored) about the Egyptian temple/tomb they had taken from Egypt and rebuilt inside a lovely modern glass structure.

I found it amazing, yet he pointed out that wouldn't it have looked better to leave it where it was, surrounded by the real pyramids, the sand and the Nile. I thought to my self, need to watch what I say here, don't want my son growing up hating Museums.

I said that people couldn't get to Egypt, and thus it would not be seen by as many people. So more people see it, more people love it.

And the imagination of a child, "The do it on the computer?".

Its true, and simple. I don't want to PAY (yes I mean pay, I mean my taxes) for a museum in London with Egyptian art which I may have seen once in my lifetime, my son has never. I want it accessible to me here, at home. And I want it better!

Museums 21st Century and Beyond

Museums need to use technology or they will be left behind. I see more an more museums using technology within their walls, well that's great! For those lucky enough to get to that museum. I see the Science Museum has all these wonderful interactive experiments. That is great for those kids that can get there, but if you look a the science museums web site its like watching paint dry. Boring and set up like a School.

No kid is ever going to say, "hey joe, when we get home from school lets go in the Science Museums web site!"

Web sites need to be interactive, social, immerse and educational. More educational that the actual museum could ever be. Here are some examples:-

You have created the best exhibit possible with your limited budget and limited size. Forget that, build exhibits as large as a city, as safe as a kids bedroom, Let your imagination RUN. If your an adult and you've thought "mmm it would be better if I had...X Y or Z" then think what it must be like for a child. They still have their imagination on full power, they are likely thinking "This is boring, I want to play my PS3!".

Whats the chances of you taking every kids from a class to Egypt and teach them in front of the great Pryamid? Slim to Zero? Well what about you taking the class to a Virtual Egypt as it was 3000 years before, walk round the Great Pyramid AS ITS BEING BUILT. With a class of 20 kids from all over the world. As you walk you tell them to look at X and explain all about it! Now you can't tell me kids wouldn't love that... and LEARN from it!

Virtual worlds opens up so much to Museums, but in the present climate I understand the financial problems. But here is a way to make more money. Some examples.

You could have areas where only subscribers could access, or charge access by the minute. Have your experts do lectures and presentations to hundreds of people without the cost of them going anywhere.

The limits for Museums is their imagination.

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