Should mu­se­ums al­ways be se­ri­ous?

Some peo­ple ar­gue that these col­lec­tions are be­com­ing too silly.

The Week - Junior - - The Big Debate -

From me­te­orites in the Na­tional His­tory Mu­seum, to a replica of an 18th cen­tury town­ship at the High­land Folk mu­seum in Scot­land, the ob­jects on dis­play at the UK’s best-loved mu­se­ums are amaz­ingly var­ied and his­tor­i­cally im­por­tant. Nev­er­the­less, some of the UK’s lead­ing mu­se­ums and gal­leries have seen a drop in at­ten­dance re­cently. In the US, how­ever, nov­elty mu­se­ums ded­i­cated to sub­jects such as pizza and eggs are spring­ing up. These mu­se­ums are de­signed as places to have fun, take pho­tos and ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing dif­fer­ent, such as swings de­signed to look like cracked eggshells. It sounds en­ter­tain­ing, but some peo­ple have crit­i­cised this type of exhibition for not hav­ing enough ed­u­ca­tional value. Mu­se­ums can be great places to learn about all sorts of things, but are they be­com­ing too silly?

YES – Mu­se­ums should be places to learn

Mu­se­ums are there to educate and in­form us. They are places where we can learn about the past and explore the world we live in. While mu­se­ums should be in­ter­est­ing, they shouldn’t be dumbed down. Many mu­se­ums re­ceive fund­ing to look af­ter im­por­tant works of art and his­tor­i­cal ob­jects, but they also rely on peo­ple buy­ing tick­ets or items from the gift shop to make the money they need to sur­vive. If peo­ple start vis­it­ing nov­elty mu­se­ums they might not go to the proper ones any­more, which would be a dis­as­ter for pro­tect­ing our cul­tural her­itage. Be­sides, “fun” mu­se­ums, like the pizza and egg mu­se­ums, are only for peo­ple who want to take self­ies and be silly. They are dis­tract­ing us from what mu­se­ums are re­ally about and drain­ing money from the proper ones.

NO – it’s im­por­tant that they’re fun

Mu­se­ums need to be fun and ex­cit­ing places to visit, oth­er­wise peo­ple will stop vis­it­ing. They need to change with the times, not just be places where dusty paint­ings hang on walls and old things are dis­played in glass cases. Now that it is pos­si­ble to ac­cess a lot of ex­hibits on­line, mu­se­ums and gal­leries have to think up cre­ative and in­ter­ac­tive ways to at­tract visi­tors. Mu­se­ums can be ex­pen­sive and peo­ple are more likely to re­turn if they have had a good time. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, ei­ther – mu­se­ums are a great op­por­tu­nity to make a se­ri­ous topic, fun. Be­sides, mu­se­ums do not al­ways have to be about se­ri­ous things – why shouldn’t we learn about things like pizza and eggs? If you en­joy a silly mu­seum, you might be more likely to try out a se­ri­ous one.

Fancy a trip to the

egg mu­seum?

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