The Future of Museums

The readings this week talked about the need for museums to change.  While I agree that the internet and technology is a tool that should be used, I am a bit concerned with the idea of museums as businesses with customers.  When used as a tool to help define the role of the administrative and financial area of the museum, a business model can be highly effective.  However, should museum visitors truly be considered “customers”?  I have my doubts on that.  Museums need to be separate from the “profit at any cost” ideals that have taken over the corporate world.  While making a profit is not in itself a negative, I fear that by opening the door to a corporate identity, museums risk becoming soulless entities focused not on nostalgia but on profit.  Museums should be places where art and history combine to raise questions and create thoughtful conversation.  They should help us remember those things that bring shame and those things that bring us pride.  They should be a place where people come to look upon that which is beautiful and that which is profane.   This is what all museums should aspire to.  When profit becomes the very reason to exist I fear that those ideals will be left behind.  By using technology museums can give access collections that have not been available for years.  People living as far away as India could see the FieldMuseum in Chicago.  A student in Alabama could visit the Egyptian section at the BritishMuseum.  As technology advances, those connections will become more and more powerful.  I would hate to see those connections lost because they are not profitable.

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