Note – Typically, my articles are all about museum strategy and marketing, but it’s good to take a step back and look at the big picture from time to time.
Through museums I have learned about cultures I will never be able to visit, historical moments that shaped the world in which we live, the stories of significant scientific, business, and cultural breakthrough, and more than anything, I’ve learned more about the human experience of people with perspectives and experiences different from my own. Museums expand our world view. They give us a broader perspective of the world and a deeper perspective of the individual. Museums teach us about the daily lives of people a million miles away and civilizations from thousands of years in the past.
One of my favorite exhibits at The National Quilt Museum was about quilters on Caohagan Island in the Philippines. Only 600 people are living on the island, and they only have electricity a few hours per day. They make quilts and then sell them in larger population countries. These activities make up a significant percentage of the islands GDP. Four people from the island came to Paducah to demonstrate their techniques for visitors. I learned about the way they live, what they ate, and more than anything, how they see the world.
According to the book Museums, Health, and Well Being by Helen, Chatlerjee and Guy Noble, “There is substantial anecdotal evidence regard the value of museums in health including.” These include but are not limited to:
- Reducing feelings of isolation
- Decreased anxiety
- Increased positive emotions, optimism, and hope.
- A sense of identity and community
- Increased self-esteem
- Increased opportunities for healthy meaning-making.
- Increased likelihood of meaningful experiences
The reason I’m talking about the many benefits of museum involvement in today’s article is because of some unfortunate events in the world as of late. At the core of hate-related crime is intolerance. One of the counters to intolerance is perspective. Museums change people’s world views and make them understand people and communities different from their own. While I am not saying museums can cure all of these ills, I am saying that museums play a critical role in the evolution of the human condition. We expand people’s world views and cause them to consider, and often, this is the first big step.
Article by Frank Bennett, worldclassmuseum.com
Chatterjee, Helen. Noble, Guy. Museums, Health, and Well-Being. Routledge. 2013.