A discussion forum for history enthusiasts everywhere
 
HomeHome  Recent ActivityRecent Activity  RegisterRegister  Log inLog in  SearchSearch  

Share | 
 

 The Mysteries of Museums

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Islanddawn
Censura
Islanddawn

Posts : 2163
Join date : 2012-01-05
Location : Greece

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyWed 17 Oct 2012, 15:10

The National Museum in Dublin is undergoing a major cataloguing (and re-discovery) of an estimated 300,000 artifacts currently in storage in their crypts, many of which have not seen the light of day in decades. Indeed many of these objects have long lost their description tags so I'd imagine that a re-identification process would also be in place, if possible. http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/features/2012/1017/1224325323956.html

Any major museum would only have a very small proportion of it's possessions on display at any one time, which lead me to wondering how many historical artifacts are shoved away in storage (all over the world) never to be seen again, and seemingly also forgotten by museum staff? And how many missing pieces to historical puzzles could actually be mouldering away, long forgotten in some museum?

Possibly an archaeological dig on the archaeology is now required for everyone?
Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
Caro

Posts : 1266
Join date : 2012-01-09

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyWed 17 Oct 2012, 20:47

This is timely for me, ID. Only yesterday I had an argument with our museum director about an example of this, which I will have mentioned before since it annoyed me so much then, and still does really. Our historical society put on a function, attended by about 200 people, to commemorate the 125th anniversary of a major shipwreck. The figurehead for the ship is at the Dunedin Early Settlers' Museum (which has just now had a major makeover to the tune of about $30 million and will have a new name). We asked to have it for ONE day, and were refused. We wouldn't be able to have the right lighting and heating and and and... Maybe not, but the bloody thing had pranced over the oceans for years without great damage. It could have managed a day here.

I wouldn't have minded so much if it was on view there, or used in some way. But it's kept in storage and never seen. What is the point? The only reason to keep these things forever is for the benefit of humans - the artefacts themselves don't know or care. And if people never ever get to see them, it all seems a bit pointless.

It's usually a matter of space and that's understandable, and often a lack of cataloguers or the finance for them, but when someone specifically wants to use them, why not let them?

We have been very lucky with our museum items - our very proactive director (I do hope I haven't uspet her) got funding for our items to be catalogued on computer and they are now online and what we have can at least be found by anyone. We always had quite a good paper system.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptySun 21 Oct 2012, 15:59

What the Irish Times article and Claire Anderson fail to mention is the principal reason behind so many artefacts being hidden from view for so long, something which contributed in no small measure to the subsequent mayhem regarding catalogue information.

In 1922 the newly established National Museum Authority inherited the governorship and custody of what once had been an adjunct to the British National Museum. Before the ink had even dried on the Treaty by which The Free State could declare its independence from British rule the authorities in London were lodging court cases, both in London and in Dublin, to have the contents of the museum transported to London. In this case - an important legal battle which in its eventual conclusion set a precedent for deciding all such issues with regard to newly independent states (Egyptians watched these proceedings like hawks) - one of the first demands from the British side was that the extensive catalogues be handed over at once, possession of which would go a long way to deciding the owner legally as these had the status of deeds in both Irish and British law. The case ran on right up to the late 1930s with the high courts in both lands agreeing that in the meantime the catalogues held the status of Fiduciary Deeds. In other words neither party could infer ownership through possession until the conveyancing of the catalgues was completed to everyone's satisfaction. The museum in Dublin therefore found itself custodian to hundreds of thousands of artefacts which they not only did not legally own but could not touch, in effect, until the wrangle was complete. Moreover there was no incentive whatsoever to maintain or update the catalogues in the meantime either. Artefacts later acquired by the museum therefore took priority with regard to cataloguing and storage, and bit by bit the existing hoard was split up and moved about to the point that even the ablest curator with the best will in the world could not hope to ever get control of the situation again.

Claire Anderson's team are doing a great job belatedly rectifying the situation. Though if they manage to get undisputed provenance restored with regard to half the items they will be doing very well indeed.

Incidentally the case was finally settled in the High Court in London in a ruling made in 1938. This had nothing to do directly with the artefacts issue but since it set a statute of limitations on fiduciary terms of ownership it effectively allowed the Irish museum to become default owners of their possessions. This in turn was challenged by the Indian government in formation in 1947 who, understandbly, said they would prefer not to have to kidnap their own cultural heritage and wait for ownership to default to them. Their insistence that the matter be covered directly by their own Treaty of Independence led to the standard method now whereby this thorny issue is resolved under international law.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
Vizzer
Censura
Vizzer

Posts : 1164
Join date : 2012-05-12

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyWed 20 Nov 2019, 17:31

@Caro wrote:
I wouldn't have minded so much if it was on view there, or used in some way.  But it's kept in storage and never seen.  What is the point?  The only reason to keep these things forever is for the benefit of humans - the artefacts themselves don't know or care.  And if people never ever get to see them, it all seems a bit pointless.

Agreed. There’s an interesting article in the New York Times on the complexities surrounding this issue:

Museums Confront Their Crowded Basements

It focuses mainly on fine art galleries but essentially applies to all museums. The problems listed include such things as wealthy donors having clauses prohibiting the resale of donated works or the breaking up of otherwise spurious ‘collections’, some curators themselves behaving like property speculators hanging onto stuff in the vain hope that the market might change in the future, kneejerk public outcries when a public museum sells any item to a private institution or individual (although bizarrely no such outcry when public funds are used for transactions in the other direction) and some donated items being held onto simply because they look old or valuable but are of unknown provenance or worth and so on. All in all it’s a bit of a mess.
Back to top Go down
Priscilla
Censura
Priscilla

Posts : 2170
Join date : 2012-01-16

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyWed 20 Nov 2019, 18:18

Imagine the following in bold capitals because this is one of my shout and snarl about topics. There is so much hidden away in museum vaults yet the displays get more spartan by  the year with artful displays acres of graphics and pur wasted space. The horological space in London'd V and A being an example. Not  that I have riveted interest in such stuff only that there are a few cases and acres of space about them - along with a few cases of medical instruments - ah but much space given to a computer area where children can muck about looking up stuff instead of trotting about and seeing real things. The only way to see what is what in most museums is to wrangle a visit back stage. It is possible if you know the tricks but should not be necessary. How I loved those jammed full display cabinets of yesteryear - the Ashmolean for instance used to be like that.  Now let in the nice people in white jackets to tend me for a while. Museums please note a good patisserie does not entice people in with  one fancy fancy on a plate. ( Carried off screaming.)
Back to top Go down
LadyinRetirement
Censura
LadyinRetirement

Posts : 2275
Join date : 2013-09-16
Location : North-West Midlands, England

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyMon 25 Nov 2019, 09:00

I saw some (not all) of the specimens that were not on display when my line manager gave myself and my co-workers a potted tour when I worked at the Natural History Museum.  Of course they had a site in  South London (the old memory is hazy at the moment and I can't recall the name of the part of London where it was situated) where some of the beetle collections were kept if I recall correctly though I'm not sure if that site was open to the public.  Of course it's 9 years since I worked at the museum so things could have changed.  There is the site of the museum at Tring of course with the Rothschild collection. I agree that it seems very sad that many exhibits are not in fact exhibited. I don't know if a compromise could be found whereby children could feel welcome and yet a decent amount of the collections remain on display to the public rather than stashed away.  When my senior school made a visit to the National History Museum I remember noticing something of interest and walking quickly (definitely not running) to try and draw my friends' attention to it and being told by a Jobsworth that I mustn't run.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyMon 25 Nov 2019, 09:17

There's been an interesting controversy in recent years in the Netherlands, whose Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam is not only an important national gallery on the basis of the quality of the works it contains but, even more than most national galleries, tends to attract more than its fair share of "über-nationalism" from the Dutch with all that this contains - including a local pride in things Dutch that, when viewed from outside, seems somewhat over the top and on occasion so much so that it is hard not to be turned off by the whole thing.

The museum building itself, from its very construction in the late 19th century, excited these passions too - though not necessarily based solely on "pride", however innocently or otherwise such a sentiment can be expressed. Built by a Catholic architect, Pierre Cuypers, in a country whose establishment at the time still gained political mileage from stressing a staunchly Protestant identity and heritage, it was equally reviled and praised by a community whose religious fault lines were blatantly exposed by the fierce debate at the time as the ugly social reality that they were. So much so that the then king refused ever to set foot in the premises of his own "royal museum". Cuypers' love of that ornately romantic embellishment which typified many large scale public buildings of the period (redolent very much of London's V&A, built around the same time) and his choice of a cathedral-like atmosphere and design for the main galleries were instantly dismissed by critics as evidence for his obvious Catholic "subversion" of the Dutch Protestant "keep it plain" aesthetic, and this criticism bordering on revulsion within that mindset persisted for generations. As late as the 1950s the chief curator of the Rijksmuseum ordered that the largest and most ornately decorated gallery, with murals, paintings and stained glass windows commissioned by Cuypers depicting Dutch history and art (a work of art in its own right) should be completely whitewashed. Not only that but he also ordered the large canvases, once removed, should be destroyed (the woman whose job it was to get this done managed to hide them away and simply lied about having destroyed them).

So - already a controversial building when, in the early 2000s, it was closed completely for what should have been three years in order to carry out necessary renovations and repairs. However the three years stretched eventually to ten as one problem after another complication arose during the renovation, and this extended period with all the works removed from display (most themselves being opportunistically renovated during the hiatus) allowed the museum authorities ample time to consider just what form the new museum would present to the public upon reopening.

To their credit they opted to undo over a century of damage to Cuypers' reputation and his building. Ugly partitions were removed, windows unblocked, the highly decorated internal and external walls restored to view and returned to their original condition and, most importantly, they retrieved the hidden central gallery canvases, removed the whitewash, and restored the chamber to its original state - the one that had so offended Willem III that he refused even to go and see it in his lifetime.

So far so good, and that's not where the controversy exists anyway. These days most Dutch people couldn't give a hoot about an identity expressed in religious terms, and are far more likely to embrace the Rijksmuseum's "gaudiness" as an emphatic aesthetic statement of its time which, at this stage, has become part of the city's own unique identity to the point that its loss from the city landscape would simply be unimaginable.

However the Rijksmusem, given its remit to represent the history of the Dutch nation as much as to glory in its considerable artistic heritage, decided on something very 2000s when selecting what should be on display and the style of presentation once they reopened. Curators of a million artefacts, they decided to reduce the displayed portion down to a mere eight thousand. Even more controversially they elected not to group artefacts in the traditional manner of splitting ceramics from metalworked fine art from paintings etc, but to arrange the display in a sequence of chronological production, with each phase representing a specific period of Dutch history, often using the paintings primarily to illustrate the prominent people and events from each period, and the other artefacts simply acting as an "add-on" to this whistle-stop tour of the "story of the nation", sometimes enhancing the narrative but often simply sitting there as examples of "what else was going on" in the fine art world at the time.

In other words they have produced a rather inadequate and terribly stilted potted history of their country, using some of the world's most stupendous works of aesthetic beauty to illustrate it. In doing this they have unwittingly reduced the objects on display to the same role as that of cute pictures in a child's history book, and numerically by a factor of five from that which previously had pertained - and even this had long been criticised as being way too small a portion of an immense national treasury which cried out for better curated and more frequently alternated exhibits. Even worse than all this (though certainly preferred by the accountants) they have reduced the national gallery to a "walk through" experience, patrons encouraged to a point of enforcement to obediently "follow the arrows", especially during peak visiting times, and therefore reach the gift shop in a manner allowing ever more guests to be processed in the same way behind them.

The ironies in all this abound, and surely are not lost on the bulk of those patrons who understand the huge historical link between Dutch trading prowess and the artistic sensibilities - radical in their day - that this engendered, the beautiful proofs of which one is now obliged to perambulate past at an optimal rate determined by accountants before being processed through the ultra-commercial end of the enterprise and ejected back out onto Hobbemastraat.

However this so obvious surrender to blatantly commercial imperatives also helps to answer that other question regarding museum curation since at least the 1990s - why do so many museum administrators assume that "dumbing down" the experience is in itself a "good thing"?. In some museums the transition seems to have been totally arbitrary - for example the Irish National Museum in Dublin has not been immune from the fashion but at least has preserved very much its displayable collection intact for many decades, whatever "dumbing down" being restricted to some of the interpretative material and choice of presentation style. However "dumbed down" it certainly was, and a visit to Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum in its new form at least allows one to see that this trend was set by the really big players (Paris, Berlin, Washington, Chicago, Vienna and a few others are equally complicit in this grave new world of curation), and so much so that they have now practically redefined what the function of a museum should now be, and how this will henceforth manifest itself in the very buildings' functional design. Any self-respecting smaller museum worth its salt and which is serious about being considered a valid member of this reformed industry basically has to play along, lest the public educated to believe that this what one expects should be disappointed and elect not to cross the threshold (for reasons equally misinformed as Willem III it must be added).

PS: I still recommend a visit - even if one feels nowadays a bit like a salmon struggling upstream when one simply stops long enough to appreciate the Rembrandt collection, especially when the bussed-in Asians arrive. It is still a stupendous collection of old masters, though it certainly makes one wonder - given that one is looking at 0.8% of that which potentially could have been displayed - how vast a wealth of treasures one has in fact been denied communion with en route to the gift shop.

PPS: I went looking for an online image of Cuyper's main hall and could not find one - so I'll simply recommend that one pause there and look at the room itself when one visits. Google searches using any term indicating "main" or "principal" etc invariably return the lesser gallery in which Rembrandt's "Night watch" hangs (a bit like looking at the room in the Louvre where the Mona Lisa installation resides and thinking one can therefore deduce the splendour of the "salon rouge"). But you can get a hint of it from this part of the museum - the so-called "gallery of honour" - which leads one down to the Night Watch bit.

The Mysteries of Museums Gallery-of-Honour-photo-by-Erik-Smits
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
PaulRyckier
Censura
PaulRyckier

Posts : 3763
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyMon 25 Nov 2019, 19:35

This is an interesting piece of history, Nordmann. I spoke for some years with someone of the North of The Netherlands and in some regions the Catholic/Protestant division is still there, even up to street fights between districts up to some years ago, he said.  But I suppose and hope that it isn't there anymore in the XXI century.
I thank you also for your analyzing of the commercial aspect of the musea. All seen as economical entities nowadays, which have to be run as a factory. As the clinics. It is not the consument, who counts, but the money that one can earn with the "product". Efficiency on the back of the customer's service? And if you don't want to adapt, disappears.
Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyTue 26 Nov 2019, 08:22

@PaulRyckier wrote:
Efficiency on the back of the customer's service? And if you don't want to adapt, disappears.

Ah, but is "efficiency" really the core issue here?

My point above was that such a model may be arguably justified in individual museums that see a huge throughput of "customers" whose reason to be there has less to do with a deep interest or understanding of a country's history and culture, and probably is more to do with the fact that the museum itself is seen as a tourist destination in its own right.

However these museums and galleries account numerically for only a small percentage of locations operating as such. For every "Louvre" or "Hermitage" for example there are dozens of smaller, though no less relevant, premises also operating in the same field. These may in fact be in the same cities as some of these well known giant operators, or indeed in countries and cities whose own less than imperial past means they function as prestigious national institutions but on a scale far smaller than these "globally branded" models, this reflected not only in the size of the collections they curate but also normally the manner in which artefacts within these collections are selected and displayed.

What has happened in recent times is that many of these institutions, for no apparent reason or at least with very little justification, have slavishly followed the trend established by the giants in - as you note - maximising throughput of visitors in an effort to maximise financial returns, the visitor becoming a mere customer/consumer directed within the system to points at which the maximum amount of cash can be extracted from them. The victim in all this, besides obviously the visitor's wallet, is invariably also the quality of the experience in a purely educational sense.

However all is not lost - and in fact I am hopeful that we might actually be seeing something of a reversal in the trend in very recent times as these lesser institutions in terms of size gradually realise that their chief "selling points" in fact might often reside within the quality of their interpretative interactions with their "customers" and not - as the giant model would dictate - presenting artefacts as attractive baubles and eye-candy in a manner designed to keep customers shuffling past en route to a gift shop.

The Irish National Museum in Dublin is again a good case in point. Some years ago its directors, based presumably on "customer research" conducted among its many visitors of whom a large proportion are foreign tourists, came to a conclusion that the bulk of these visitors were most impressed with the museum's admittedly astounding collection of gold artefacts from Ireland's "Celtic" pre-Christian past, especially the torcs and other personal adornments recovered from ancient graves over the preceding centuries. These had always been on display, though traditionally dispersed among other artefacts equally reflecting Ireland's late Bronze Age and early Iron Age past. Early Christianity in Ireland also yielded some stunning gold and silver artefacts, normally in the form of chalices and other mass paraphernalia, though only someone with a huge misunderstanding of history would presume to draw cultural parallels between these and the items from a millennium of more earlier in terms of craftsmanship, authorship or motive in producing them.

Yet this is exactly what the museum did - amassing all the most prestigious and shiny of these artefacts in one central "in your face" collection (which they unimaginatively labelled "the Treasures of Ireland Collection") where they are quite literally the first thing one sees as one comes through the main door (via the shop). Great for the hordes of Japanese tourists and fellow travellers who now can quite literally step across the threshold, take a few pictures, and then retreat post haste back to their bus while hopefully parting with a little cash in the shop before they board the vehicle, all in the naive belief that they have "visited" the museum and absorbed a little of the "culture". Which of course they haven't.

Even more recently however, a rather more intelligent survey conducted among a wider sample group - conducted primarily because it had been noted that the number of actual Irish people crossing that threshold was dropping alarmingly - discovered that in fact a majority of potential visitors to the national collection had never been fooled in the slightest that these "National Treasures" represented Irish culture at all, or at least an intelligent representation of it. Even more surprising for the researchers apparently was the fact that the vast majority of visitors who made it beyond the first "in your face" collection of baubles - even many non-Irish visitors - actually intentionally by-passed this display. Rather than listing these genuinely important artefacts now being reduced to gaudy trinkets as highlights of their visit, most of these visitors instead cited the museum's otherwise impressive interpretations of pre-Christian and later Viking society as the institution's most distinctive and worthwhile features.

A conversation I had with one of the curators during the summer was encouraging. Pending financial assistance (not at all a given in current circumstances) the museum seriously intends to undo this atrocious "dumbing down" and restore these artefacts to an intelligent context within their displays, one that actually informs visitors about the rich culture and heritage which produced them. What's more, the museum has actually come to the conclusion that this reversal of the dumbing down trend will in fact greatly boost potential earnings and they are now viewing the last decade or two as a period of missed opportunity. For an institution legally forbidden to charge an admission price and which is very much dependent therefore on voluntary donations and customer retail purchases based on the same customer being satisfied with the experience of having visited the place, this "missed opportunity" is now reckoned to have been a considerable financial loss in fact.

I assume as a museum they are not alone with this revision - and I am hopeful that we will at last see a general reversal of the "treat the customer as childish and thick" model that has blighted the field so much in recent decades.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
PaulRyckier
Censura
PaulRyckier

Posts : 3763
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyTue 26 Nov 2019, 23:09

Thank you very much for your enlightenment, nordmann.
Now I understand what you mean and you are absolutely right with your reasoning. I hope the trend as you described for the Irish National Museum (as usual in your colourful language) will once get through for all. But as I see it, it will sadly still be a question of money, even with all the goodwill of the direction. But when there is still a will to change one can even go a long way without not too much money?

Although I have "done" nearly all the great musea of the world, the Metropolitan New York, the Hermitage in the time at Leningrad, nearly all of Paris and London, the Museuminsel Berlin, I was happy surprized with much smaller musea

as the Lugdunum one of Lyon (as I remember it, a bit in the way as you mentioned the new trend in the Irish one)
https://lugdunum.grandlyon.com/en/Discover/The-museum


as the small museum at Han-sur-Lesse, where they did from 1960 on dives in the caves to find artefacts from 9000 years old to present, especially from the late bronze.
https://www.rtbf.be/info/regions/namur/detail_han-sur-lesse-des-archeologues-font-de-la-plongee?id=8337603
When I pointed to my compagnions to a safety pin in the showcase and said that it was from the late bronze they too were exalted.
The Mysteries of Museums 13-3

Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
Caro
Censura
Caro

Posts : 1266
Join date : 2012-01-09

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyWed 27 Nov 2019, 03:05

Further up, Nordmann mentioned having to follow arrows in museums, and we found this years ago (2003?) in Jorvik Museum in York. We didn't think much of it anyway - it seemed mostly set up with children in mind and was a bit childish in its presentations. But mostly we disliked the arrows and not just arrows but ropes actively insisting we just go that way - we could wander back and forward at all. My son and his wife-to-be had to be somewhere else by the end and eventually they just jumped the rope and made for the exit. But to be herded like that made us feel like sheep taken into yards.

Priscilla mentioned not going to museums for patisseries but we do! The two museums in Dunedin both have very good disabled parking spots (access parks I suppose I should call them now) close by the entrance and we often go to them for coffees. I always want to put a donation in, but my husband says we pay for them in our rates, and anyway now we exist on the pension. (Hasn't stopped us building an expensive house to live in!) Our local (well no longer local now that we have shifted) museum has its collection online so you can see what we have though the manager says he is now refusing to accept any larger items that people bring in till we have more storage space. But our museum is quite small and we display lots of our objects, so it certainly doesn't look sparse. But I do tend to say to people who are considering giving stuff to museums that that will keep them for posterity but people won't necessarily get to see them. Check Owaka Museum.  The community raised funds for a mortgage-free building that we share with the council as an information centre.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyWed 27 Nov 2019, 08:26

To be fair to the Jorvik Museum, Caro, what they offer is, in museum terms, something quite different from a traditional exhibition in that it is less about individual artefacts on display and almost completely predicated on an actual ground plan dictated by the excavated Norse period street architecture on which it sits. This is then enhanced as an experience through quite a lot of imaginative reconstructions, interpretations via actors, scale models, etc, which have been designed to complement the imposed sequence this architecture demanded. Having lots of people - especially school tours and the like - hopping willy-nilly under and over guide ropes would simply destroy the experience for other guests.

The Mysteries of Museums B47f6ead312b7ce1950948b59b73ddd6

I've been in many such museums and interpretative centres over the years, and it is very seldom I have had reason to criticise an imposed route for guests when visiting. An "experience" designed to be presented in this fashion, and especially one that accommodates large visitor numbers, is quite ok, arrows and all.

What I object to is when other museums try to emulate this model for no good reason except maximising throughput and profit - especially ones with large artefact collections who then try to convert this into a "themed experience", such as in the Rijksmuseum. When this happens then the chance of a meaningful "experience" while inter-relating with the artefacts and information on display is lessened, not enhanced. Even worse, such conversion almost inevitably results in a reduction of artefacts on display, sometimes drastically, and with "lowest common denominator" interpretation of what's left offered by the curators.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
Meles meles
Censura
Meles meles

Posts : 3900
Join date : 2011-12-30
Location : Pyrénées-Orientales, France

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyWed 27 Nov 2019, 09:34

There's also a bit of a difference between museums as places for the preservation and display of items for their cultural or scientific value, and galleries for housing artworks and spectacular or intriguing cultural items (such as for example a collection of clocks, or of children's toys, or relating to a local industry etc), albeit there is aways going to be considerable overlap. LiR mentioned the Natural History Museum in London and its vast collection of items, most of which have never been displayed. But the majority of this store is comprised of research collections and is of little  interest to most visitors. Visitors to the NHM want to be wowed/entertained by the huge blue whale, mounted dinosaur skeletons, the stunning collection of precious stones, or educated/informed by the interactive displays on volcanoes, the immensity of geologic time or how the human body works. I used to love the old-style displays in the NHM comprising room after room of glass cases full of labelled specimens, but even I could devote little attention to the room just full of cabinets containing thousands and thousands of slightly differing small to medium-sized black beetles, whose only "wow factor" is in the sheer number of similar yet distinct species (God is indeed inordinately fond of beetles). 

Similarly I have been behind the scenes of a small regional museum (Maidstone museum in Kent) to visit the bit of the fossil collection that is not, and probably never will be, on public display. It comprises rack after rack of sliding drawers containing what are in effect meticulously-labelled lumps of rock, with bits of fossil bone, tooth or shell protruding from the matrix. Like the NHM's beetle collection (as well as their pressed flowers, jars of pickled lizards, dried skins, stuffed animals, rock samples, bird paintings, naturalist's notebooks etc), this repository is immensely valuable for scientific reasearch purposes, but ultimately the items are of only very little general interest in themselves. 

Actually I think the NHM, and particularly many small local museums like Maidstone, as well as providing an accessible "gosh, I never knew that" experience, also cater very well for more serious education/study. The NHM's full palaeontological collection is generally inaccessible to non-professionals, but they still manage to publically display a sufficiently comprehensive selection of fossils from throughout the UK (simply, even boringly, displayed by location and age etc) that I have used it many times to help identify my own, amateurly-collected finds, so I certainly could not accuse them of dumbing down there.
Back to top Go down
nordmann
Nobiles Barbariæ
nordmann

Posts : 6519
Join date : 2011-12-25

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyWed 27 Nov 2019, 11:09

The NHM will also, by appointment and using the correct procedure, provide you gratis with an expert to evaluate items that you might wish to present for assessment.

I'm glad you mentioned the NHM in London (and the Sciences branch next door). When it comes to striking a balance between child friendly exhibition and well curated presentation of a mind boggling amount of artefacts then these two both achieve as near to perfection as I believe is possible, even better than the National Museum in fact despite the latter's almost limitless opportunity to adopt theme-based curation whenever they wish.
Back to top Go down
https://reshistorica.forumotion.com
LadyinRetirement
Censura
LadyinRetirement

Posts : 2275
Join date : 2013-09-16
Location : North-West Midlands, England

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyWed 27 Nov 2019, 14:17

I haven't visited it personally but there's a natural history museum in Oxford of course.  I don't know how how much is on display and how much is on not in that museum though.
Back to top Go down
PaulRyckier
Censura
PaulRyckier

Posts : 3763
Join date : 2012-01-01
Location : Belgium

The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums EmptyWed 27 Nov 2019, 22:37

@Caro wrote:
Priscilla mentioned not going to museums for patisseries but we do! The two museums in Dunedin both have very good disabled parking spots 

Caro,

while the partner isn't interested in musea, it is always a good thing when there is a cafetaria with snacks. Then she can be at ease and I can "do" at ease the museum. And as she is in a wheelchair too now for some longer distances....
Tomorrow to Antwerp...perhaps also to the museum at the river...and they have a cafetaria (I was there already once)...
https://www.mas.be/en

Kind regards, Paul.
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




The Mysteries of Museums Empty
PostSubject: Re: The Mysteries of Museums   The Mysteries of Museums Empty

Back to top Go down
 

The Mysteries of Museums

View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Res Historica History Forum :: The history of things ... :: Places-