Museum Synthesis Museums bring history and culture to life by allowing individuals to gain unique hands on experience that is different from learning from textbooks or television. One can never know the reality behind certain artifacts and art until they see it for themselves. The perception of viewing a multitude of replicas and pictures such as the Mona Lisa can be dramatically different from witnessing the painting up close. The interactive experience allows one to engage and immerse ourselves back into time to learn about the truth of different cultures and traditions.
The intent of museums is not purely to enthrall historians and scholars, but to create an environment which is welcoming to all individuals. While historians argue that museums should provide an exact representation of history, it is not rational to neglect crucial factors such as the museum’s financial state, proper balance between education and entertainment, and authenticity and comfort. Historians probably are not obsessed with the museum’s bottom line; however, realistically speaking museums could not run without sales and commercialism.
According to an excerpt from Museum Store Management by Mary Miley Theobald, commercialism does not belong in museum activities, and the entire logic behind the sales activity in museums is money where “… the museum is operating a gift shop rather than a museum store and it has little justification for existence” (Source D). While money is one reason for the creation of museum stores, and the money is intended for profit of the museum but it is also used to preserve and protect history.
When ancient artifacts are not protected and preserved at the right emperature and conditions, history can be demolished and lost. Furthermore, capital is not the sole purpose of running a museum shop. Replicas sold at gift shops can serve as a memory of history and visitors experience. Museum shops do not overwhelm the presence of the museum, and the main attractions are not impeded by the presence of a gift shop. Furthermore, an essential factor when securing a new work of art or an artifact is for the museum to mimic the reality of the past without harming the visitors comfort.
Visiting a museum should not be a punishment. Critic Ada Louise Huxtable argues that museums are “… literally too clean … that it does not include the filth and stench that would have been commonplace in the eighteenth-century colonial town” (Source E). Museums should not rid their visitors their right to use a public restroom to the extent that the visit becomes unpleasant. His argument is indeed irrational; the smell and stench of the time would be arduous to mimic, and is not necessary in order to perceive the meaning of history.
However, the restrooms would not be a distraction from the museum site but would be required to be farther away from the portrayal of ancient villages. On the contrary, Disney Enterprises use the “… replacement of reality with selective fantasy” to misrepresent the past (Source E). The theme park avoids the painfulness of the past and instead paints a “rosy picture of an elegant, harmonious past”. Museums should depict reality, no matter the cost of displaying the unpleasantness and shamefulness of history such as slavery, disease, and class oppression.
Through displaying the harsh realities of history, society can learn to use prior mistakes as a lesson. Museums should showcase the reality of the past; however, removing public bathrooms, and including the smell of the eighth century to the point where it endangers the health of the visitors is far too drastic. Likewise, museums can continue to create a pleasurable experience for all people by creating a balance between education and entertainment.
In order to create an nvironment that is pleasurable for all audiences, there should be exhibits at museums that appeal to younger audiences as well as more intellectually adept individuals. For instance, Charles W. Peale captivated the attention of visitors by creating a museum composed of”… biological oddities such as a twoheaded pig, a root resembling a human face, and a five-legged cow with no tail” (Source B). In spite of the fact that experts may find these oddities to be frivolous, the museum exhibits could potentially increase the attendance of other audiences.
Museums must have exhibits that compel visitors to come, but in addition, educational exhibits that would satisfy others interests. The National Museum of American History located in Washington, D. C. is an example of a museum that attracts diverse audiences. The museums display ranges from the display of the original Kermit the frog and the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz to artifact walls showcasing the pottery and glass of the past. These intriguing exhibits might attract more museum goers and people that do not usually frequent museums.
If a museum was only made up of all educational exhibits, potentially more historians and scholars would attend and less of younger audiences would be encouraged to learn. The factors that crucial for a person responsible for securing a new work of art or an artifact are museum’s financial state, proper balance between education and entertainment, and the health of visitors. Museum shops help to protect and preserve history, and allow visitors to bring home a remembrance of their visit.
Small museum shops do not take away from the museums educational value, but help to benefit the conditions of their exhibits. In order for museums to be successful, museums must have both engaging exhibits as well as exhibits that attract more intellectually adept individuals. Although, the need for museums display the reality of the past is essential, the need for public bathrooms and proper health conditions overrides the necessity of depicting reality.