I want to share with you today how and why a local community can engage with their museum. It is about removing barriers from museums, turning them into places, is not just places people come to visit, but where you can interact actively, where you can connect with culture. Hoping through these experiences, you communicate more deeply together.
The problem is for most people they do not consider museums as open space; they see museums as elite institutions. Museums as elite institutions serving a small and increasingly small subset of our population. When most people go looking for cultural experiences, they don’t go to a museum; we live in a time of fertile creativity. You don’t have to be a professional to be eager for today’s culture, people are getting together in bars to bond together, renting land to start their trade, and so they can do their scientific experiments together, the search in this is very clear: Throughout our country people are more culturally involved than ever before, but they prefer these experiences outside traditional cultural institutions. This means you’re more likely to pick you up a paintbrush, from you’re going to the Art Museum instead of going to a Historical Museum. People are working on their genetic research. I look at this and say: Museums could get involved in this game! Those people who are interested in culture, they are passionate about the things we protect, and yet; we are not far away.
We opened the museum for the culture of participation. We adopt it so we invite people to draw with us on Sunday; We encourage them to share their creative skills with each other. Sometimes this includes tools that are much more interactive than paint brushes. What I want to share with you today is two ways to remove barriers from our museums and how it can, both our organisations and our community. I hope the first aspect of this is about active interaction; we don’t invite you just to visit us; we expect all to come to our museums, to contribute something that improves our museum, so, from the moment you enter through that door, you’re asked to give us your suggestions on how we can develop the museum. Over the past year, thousands of visitors have contributed to the content of our museum, this is beautiful, powerful, and meaningful, to others who cross that door, but I think we all know, that we have experiences in sharing public comment, not much help in museums. What I see here is a lack of tailored opportunities, to invite people to offer something useful in this situation I believe that all of us, has something strong and creative to add, I believe that each of us has a story to share; you have something amazing to share on this platform today, but you have to think of creative ways to get participation, the difference is in how we design the invitation to take part. Good design can elevate us to better share ourselves, unlike a poor design that can’t. This means that if you give someone a special tool, you make them feel valued and encouraged, people in return, are more productive. “By doing creative projects, we don’t just make the museum spirited, we make it sustainable for the future. You might look at this and ask, “But what about objects?” Aren’t museums the foundation around artefacts? Yes, we still have things in our museums.
The other side I want to mention is how to turn our artefacts, looking at them as opportunities, for indirect talks between strangers. Here’s an example, let’s go outside the museum. How many people here have a dog? We can relate to this, so we have this experience. You walk out with your dogs in a public place and come to a total stranger who talks to you. They don’t talk to you directly; they talk to you through your dog. The dog has become a safe tool that mediates the meeting otherwise that would not have happened. How can we make museum artefacts more like dogs? I’m serious, how to make them opportunities for talks, that wouldn’t have occurred otherwise? Because the unanimous experiences that people can get around museum pieces are bigger than that we have around our dogs. The museum’s archaeological pieces have the potential to uncover great conversations, about where we were, where we are now and where we are going. Again, in museums we should think carefully, about how we bring life to conversations, that can take place around these pieces, both through literal activity, which enters people in deep integration and action. This opens up the possibilities of great conversation and debate. Most museums do not even give you comfortable opportunities for people to sit and talk about the pieces displayed and connect with the artefacts. Giving people the opportunity to collaborate more, and these types of activities help people connect with the artefacts, and learn more about them but more importantly, it helps them to connect with people, who may not be like them, this creates a common understanding, it educates and breaks down barriers in our global society. We can transform our museums from beautiful things we have to beautiful and interesting things we share.