Relevancy and Inclusion

If museums are struggling to stay relevant in an era of social media and instant gratification, then perhaps the best way to revitalize them is to jump on the bandwagon. It seems like contemporary movements begin online, especially on social media, and museums would do well to make use of this massive shift in the way that information is spread, and history is made. Not only do museums have a chance to save themselves, but building a connection between social media and a physical museum allows them to start important conversations in public places outside of the internet, allowing for perhaps an even more broad audience. I think about my grandma, who asks once a month what “Facepage” is, and who sees those liberal “riots” on Fox News, but who also loves to walk through museums on a weekday afternoon. Imagine what she could be exposed to if museums decided to build this sort of bridge. She’s awfully proud of the hardships endured by the Irish immigrants in our family line… imagine if she could learn those same struggles are still being endured today, in a setting that is already non-threatening and familiar to her.

It’s heartbreaking that people are using museum settings to argue about issues, instead of just stepping back and allowing themselves to learn. The Aarons article in particular struck me, because I guess when I think of museums as forums, I think of them as positive places of discussion and learning. But the Le Blond article about refugee guides in Berlin has so much incredible potential, and I wonder if it would be possible to put something like that in place here in Boise. Boise (somewhat strangely, for this political environment) tends to (quietly) celebrate its immigrant and refugee population, and it would be so cool for institutions like the history museum, when it reopens, to take advantage of the diversity present in the far corners of this culturally homogenous city. Even further, letting those refugees and immigrants tell locals stories about themselves would be killer. The Hispanic Cultural Center over in Nampa used to do this a little bit, but if a larger institution like the Historical Society took the initiative, I think they could take the idea of inclusion in this city to a whole new level.

2 thoughts on “Relevancy and Inclusion”

  1. I completely agree that it is disheartening for people to attempt to use museums to fight about political issues rather than to learn something. It seems so defeatist when the information to refute hateful ideologies are RIGHT THERE IN THE COLLECTIONS. A pity that people in general do not read anymore.

    I was also thinking along similar lines with the reopening of the Idaho History Museum here. It would be fascinating to get the many refugee and immigrant populations here to contribute in some way, since they are every bit as much a part of Idaho as the cattle and sheep ranchers or miners are. At very least I hope they redevelop the Chinese railworker section, as I always felt that was rather lacking.

  2. It makes me hopeful that the Idaho Historical Museum will have a blog, which seems to be where this sort of dialogue seems to be taking place…

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