Museums and Societies | Free Essay Examples


Museums stand out as some of the outstanding natural monuments in our societies. They represent some of the public utilities and social investments in modern societies. Most museums’ origins point to the genesis of several states more than 200 years ago. They point to the origin of mankind and nationhood. Museums strongly influence society (Bertacchini, Dalle & Scuderi, 2018); however, in some instances, this significant influence is overlooked and never recognized fully. Like all other institutions and projects, museums adjust to keep up with current affairs. In particular technology is significantly revolutionizing the nature of operations and activities within museums. The following paper seeks to present a detailed assessment of the transformations within the museums and the role of technology in transforming the future of museums. The paper will also delve into how museums offer educational services to the public and conclude by presenting an overall view of the significance of museums to the community.

Technology and the Future of Museum

The current and future museums are rapidly transforming their operations to align their services with the dynamic human demands and to match the digital culture. Several aspects of museum operations and management have changed and continuing to change. First there is a paradigm shift on primary role of museums. Traditionally museums were seen as recreational and civic spaces that offered the public space for recreation and entertainment while enriching their knowledge and understanding with civic education about their cultural practices and beliefs. However, that is not the case anymore as predicted with current events in the museum and galleries operations and management. There is an increasing commercial interest in museums’ management and operations, which stresses increasing museums’ economic value at the expense of its social responsibility of providing recreation and civic space. A strong case for commercialization of museums is advanced by the current lucrative sponsorship deals, heavy branding of exhibitions and events, and expansion of retail ventures within the museum premises (Kain, 2016). These movements that commenced in the late 1990s, have continued to increase in intensity and value and it is apparent that museums are transitioning from being archives to the historical cultural values of a society to commercial institutions with sole focus on profit maximization.

Apart from commercialization of museums, another trend of museums going into the future is the data collection and storage system transformation. Traditionally museums collected and stored artifacts and other related information in hard copy. All the artifacts were kept in physical form that not only occupied space but also required proper preservation of the cultural background and information relating to different artifacts. However, with the advent of technological advances and the emergence of digital culture, museums are increasingly utilizing technology to collect and store artefacts. Carvalho and Matos (2018) hint that museums are migrating slowly but steadily from physical storage of information relating to artifacts to a digitalized system that utilizes digital technology to collect and store different cultural artifacts. In the future, there is a possibility of having virtual museums where the whole of cultural heritage and the various transformations in life are contained in a virtual format that can be accessed online without necessarily visiting the museums in person.

The first-paced digitalization of museums is slowly transforming museums into digital art and aesthetics. With the embracing of digital transformation museums are in a journey of transforming their artifacts from the past physical items housed in structures to a future of digital art and aesthetics. The digital art is believed to be the quintessential representation of new development and innovation in art, with an iconic expression of digital culture (Kain, 2016). Museums are moving to digital interactive arts that allow audiences and visitors to such museums to self-interrogate and investigate the various artifacts and get to know more about their history without involving the guides.

Technology has been very pivotal in the transformations witnessed in the museums. The application of technology in museum spaces presents many advantages to the management and visitors alike. Technology has played a significant role in transforming the management of information collection and storage. Through embracing technology in the museums, the managements of museums no longer rely on the manual data storage system. Instead, the information is stored in digital format Carvalho and Matos (2018) argue that technology is playing a catalytic role in inspiring the transformation from traditional system of storing information to the digitalization of museums. Concerning the potential and prospective visitors, technology increases accessibility by bringing museums closer to everyone. Technology has revolutionized the traditional perception that artifacts can only be seen by visiting the museum. However, with technology things have changed and people interested in visiting and experiencing the rich cultural heritage can access the same information online. Technology has also played a critical role in the realignment of museography. Kain (2016) argues that through modern technology, museums can systematically arrange the objects in the museum chronologically, facilitating faster and easier retrieval of any artifact that a visitor would be willing to observe. For instance, museography has made it possible for management to shift from object-centered to experience-centered design that presents the visiting customers with more experience and satisfaction.

How Museum Educates Society and Its Community

Historically museums have assumed the educative role by providing the public with grounds for civic education on top of recreation. Museums have rich inventory of different cultural artifacts that provide both the public and academicians with fertile ground for learning and acquiring insights about the past, the present and thereby help in figuring out the future. The raison d’être of educational underpinning of museums is broadly defined. First museums make it possible to assemble different collections of artifacts, assorted and classified scientifically, and preserved to be used for references. Historically museums act as the place of references with rich information in anthropology, botany, zoology and history. The preservation of the past forms a strong basis for references of the history to the current generation of scholars, academicians and educators (Gigerl et al., 2022).

Museums also educate society and the communities through exhibitions. Exhibitions are concerned with informing and influencing behavior of the people attending such expos. The information gained from such exhibition form new schema that can potentially influence a person’s epistemological underpinning. The rich information provided alongside the exhibits help in providing attendees with knowledge and understanding. As argued by Gigerl et al. (2022) any process that dispenses new information to a person is educational.

Museums are research centers they provide scholars, academicians, and students with the best grounds for conducting academic and professional research. The rich diverse information regarding different aspects of life make museums almanac of academic research, providing scholars with detailed information about different historical events. Museum facilities present societies and communities with an unrivaled library of information about most artifacts and cultural heritage spanning several years through preservation of such historical facts (Gigerl, et al., 2022). This therefore provides people from the neighborhoods with an opportunity to visit such facilities. For schools and learning institutions, museums are destinations for academic excursions. School administrators can arrange academic trips with their preferred museums to provide their students with observational learning opportunities. While at the museums learners can interact with the various artifacts they have been introduced to theoretically in class. Museum managements also work hand in hand with the department of education in designing and developing educational content, particularly in fields like literature, history, anthropology, and biology, in this way, they provide the public with vital information about different aspects of cultural and biodiversity.

Museums also offer education to the public through display of objects. Museums and galleries house several pieces of information about artifacts. These pieces of information are documented and kept in these institutions in areas that can be accessed by anyone visiting the facilities. In this regard, they offer visitors an interactive learning sessions where they observe and see the content of every aspect of historical events that have been preserved for years (Tacon, 2019). The visual learning provided by museums helps improve cognitive development for students as they get to watch and interact with the contents of learning.

Significance of Museums to Communities

Museums play several essential roles within communities that make them appear critically important to the communities surrounding them and even the larger communities that visit them for various reasons. Their presences in such communities have many positive impacts ranging from social effects, enhancement and promotion of cultural heritage and constant community engagement in their daily activities. For instance, Janes and Sandell (2019) argue that museums are always on the frontline in addressing the contemporary socio-cultural issues arising within their midst. Besides, they also offer recreational opportunities for families and create employment opportunities for many people.

One of the significance of museums to the communities is job creation. Museums have various opportunities ranging from curators to managers and administrators of the facilities. Their presence in the community creates employment opportunities to several people. Individuals absorbed as curators are drawn from the community. In this way, it can be seen that museums play a pivotal role in promoting economic sustainability of the communities where they operate. Apart from creating direct employment opportunities, museums also organize careers and event fairs where they provide youth with valuable experiences and employability skills. During such events museums also connect youth to several potential employers and thus play an important role in connecting the youth to employment opportunities. Through their insight events, museums also provide youth with work-related skills that are critically important in ensuring acquisition of skills and experience relating to various jobs and opportunities within their facilities.

Museums also provide an enriching environment to the communities they serve. One of the primary ways of community engagement is by providing lifelong learning programs which target the locals. Through such initiatives, museums offer scholarship opportunities to the elected members of the communities they serve. The selected individuals undergo training programs encompassing cultural values, social interactions and general knowledge acquisition. Museums also engage the community by providing internship and volunteer opportunities to the locals in the various programs and openings within their institutions (Cotter, Fekete & Silvia, 2022). Such opportunities help create strong working relationships between communities and local museums. By offering the residents in the immediate neighbourhood opportunities to serve the museums in different capacities as interns and volunteers, museums create a strong PR with the community (OECD, 2018). Museums may also engage the community through their corporate social responsibilities (CSR), in which they give back to the community. Before initiating a project within a community, the museum management has to seek the opinions of the locals on what is more important to them. It has the potential to transform their lives for the better. Gathering opinions from the community and offering services to the respective community help museums involve the community in their activities and operations. The CSR programs also help improve the quality of life within the communities where the museums operate. Museums also play an important role in promoting cultural development and understanding within their communities. For instance, museums cooperate with cultural institutions such as theatres, libraries, archives, and other cultural groups to promote the cultural practices of different groups and thereby enhance appreciation of the various cultural practices. Bertacchini, Dalle Nogare, and Scuderi (2018) suggest that organizations of cultural competitions between different cultures play a critical role in creating stronger bonds between cultures by providing them a stage to interact with each other learn from one another. In addition, museums also help cultivate an appreciation of cultural diversity. According to Tacon (2019)museums can offer people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and regions a stage to interact and share their experiences.

In particular, museums provide people with a glimpse into their past and thus give them a deeper understanding of the differences in their cultural values from those of others. Most museums also honour the history of the local communities within which they operate, and this help in keeping updated information on different cultures in a given region (Drotner, Dziekan, Parry & Schrøder, 2019). In this way, members of a given community can learn the variations in cultural practices of different communities within their midst. In this way, the presence of museums within a community helps inculcate cultural diversity among members of a given community. Because of the preservation of diverse cultural information about the various communities, anybody visiting such museums can interact with different cultural values, practices, and traditions, instilling a sense of appreciation for diversity and thereby inculcating a better understanding of different cultures (Tacon, 2019).

Regarding cultural issues, museums play an important role in preserving cultural heritage. The museums and galleries keep up-to-date documentation of different artefacts. The chronological documentation of past cultural events helps keep cultural information intact for future generations. Meineke et al. (2019) assert that the primary role of conservation efforts in museums is to help preserve past information for future generations. By keeping such updated records, museums help ensure that cultural values, practices, traditions, and norms are kept for posterity. In this sense, museums and art galleries allow people to glimpse their past and how that past has shaped their present and potentially their future. In museums, people can learn about how things were done in the past and how life looked. This not only enables people to appreciate their past but also allows them to gain insight into the steps society has made (Tacon, 2019). In this light, it is therefore important to underscore that people visit museums and art galleries to interact with their past and appreciate the steps they have made in life by comparing the rudimentary forms of life captured and stored in these places with the contemporary lifestyle. In addition, how the various artifacts and different items are stored and preserved in museums and art galleries demonstrates how humanity has been preserved over time (Tacon, 2019). It is therefore important for people to visit museums to gain insight and understanding of our rich history of the past and appreciate the milestones we have made as a people.

Museums serve to promote better standards of living within the societies they work. Crossick, and Kaszynska (2016) define the societal impact of museums on the communities as the role played by museums in promoting interconnectedness between the diverse members of a community. Thus museums are seen as promoters of the social fabric of a community concerned with the wellbeing of the families living within the pressings of such institutions. There is a strong case to be made that museums play a critical role in promoting social development within the communities they operate. First, museums play a critical role in creating and promoting unity on a community’s social, political, and local levels. In so doing, museums help create peaceful coexistence and tolerance among people living within a given setup. Drotner, Dziekan, Parry and Schrøder (2019) contend that museums can provide a community with a sense of collective heritage and promote peaceful coexistence, enhancing societal goodwill and healthy relationships among individuals and families a society.

Museums and galleries also provide the members of a given society with insights into their historical past and the history of mankind, which play a critical role in providing society with moral insight into their history and connectedness with others hence promoting unity. The insights from the past that point to common ancestry to mankind is very important in promoting peaceful coexistence, especially at times of turmoil and intolerance caused by social class, racial differences, and religious affiliations (Crossick & Kaszynska, 2016). Museums assist societies in understanding their common origin and thus help reduce polarization and tension arising from the perceived stereotypic alignments. Therefore, it is apparent that the activities of museums play a critical role in bringing communities together through advocacy for peace, offering educational guidance, and opening up the understanding of the people, thereby creating a peaceful and prosperous society.

Conclusion

Museums are some of the pillars within our society. They offer public with a lot of insights. With technological advancement, museums are rapidly undergoing transformations to catch up with the new wave of change. Museums are significantly important in societal development. They create employment opportunities and offer incredible mentorship programs for the youth and equip them with employability skills. Museums offer incredible educational support system to the institutions of learning and the public. Preserving historical information allows museums to provide visitors with rich information on different subject areas. Finally museums also play an integral role in promoting societal cohesion and integration though different programs including CSR and promoting diversity.

References

Bertacchini, E., Dalle Nogare, C. & Scuderi, R. (2018). Ownership, organization structure and public service provision: The case of museums. Journal of Cultural Economics.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10824-018-9321-9

Carvalho, A. & Matos, A. (2018). Museum Professionals in a Digital World: Insights

from a Case Study in Portugal. Museum International, 70, 34-47

Cotter, K. N., Fekete, A., & Silvia, P. J. (2022). Why do people visit art museums? Examining visitor motivations and visit outcomes. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 40(2), 275-295.

Crossick, G., & Kaszynska, P. (2016). Understanding the value of arts & culture: The AHRC cultural value project. Arts and Humanities Research Council. https://ahrc.ukri.org/documents/publications/cultural-value-project-final-report/

Drotner, K., Dziekan, V., Parry, R., & Schrøder, K. C. (2019). The Routledge handbook of museums, media and communication (p. 358). Taylor & Francis.

Gigerl, M., Sanahuja-Gavaldà, J. M., Petrinska-Labudovikj, R., Moron-Velasco, M., Rojas Pernía, S., & Tragatschnig, U. (2022). Collaboration between schools and museums for inclusive cultural education: Findings from the INARTdis-project. Frontiers in Education

Kain, E. (2016). Virtual reality is just an over-priced gimmick, nothing more. Retrieved

from https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2016/10/15/virtual-reality-is-just-an-over-

priced-gimmick/#4b320f3c137d

Janes, R. R., & Sandell, R. (2019). Museum activism (p. 406). Taylor & Francis.

Meineke, E. K., Davies, T. J., Daru, B. H., & Davis, C. C. (2019). Biological collections for understanding biodiversity in the Anthropocene. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B374(1763), 20170386.

OECD (2018). Culture and local development: Maximizing the impact. Guide for local governments, communities and museums. The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 11-50

Tacon, P. S. (2019). Connecting to the ancestors: Why rock art is important for Indigenous Australians and their wellbeing. Rock Art Research. The Journal of the Australian Rock Art Research Association (AURA), 36(1), 5-14.

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