On Museums in Antiqyity

Musems In Motion by Alexader and Alexander and Before Museums: The Curiosity Cabinet as Metamorphe by Stephanie Bowry

While most of the definitions mentioned in the “Museum in Motion” book contained a common denominator, namely that a museum is an educational space, the one that left me pondering was the writing of a German writer: “where every separate object kills every other and all of them together, the visitor.” It was in this collection of words that I truly felt the intangible definition of a museum. It kills you without killing you. It forces you to revisit new experiences. One can’t relive new experiences without dying. It is as if all the objects compete with one another. Every object wants to outlive its rival, and in doing so, they embellish themselves to leave the viewer in awe. Their collectivity kills their viewers, only to make them realize new aspects of life. They metamorphose their viewers. They are thus inspirational.

I find this in alignment with what was said in the “Before Museums: The Curiosity Cabinet as Metamorphe” article: it is the curiosity cabinet that allows infinite possibilities to house contrasting objects, including life and death, and to interpret various objects within the artwork and the artwork as a whole.

This, however, seems to contradict what the Canadian anthropologist Michael Ames alluded to as reported in the “Museum in Motion” book: “Museums by their very nature limit their audiences’ abilities to make sense of collections and place them in broader social context.”

Concerning the etymology of the word “museum,” “mouseion,” and the fact that it was inhabited by philosophers and was regarded as the residence of the elite, thinkers, inventors, and scientists, I wonder if this resulted in deterring people until recently from visiting museums or from considering museums as social spaces, as Simon indicated in her TED Talk “The Participatory Museum” (2010). Part of the reason why Stoic philosophy was taught in public spaces was to allow access to knowledge in non-institutional places and to make this knowledge available for those who truly wanted to be enlightened but had no means to attend or access professional institutions. This calls for further investigation into whether this has anything to do with the museum’s antiquity or who had access to the museum.

On Musems and COVID-19:

After a Covid Contraction, Museums Are Expanding Again by Robin Pogrebin and Post-COVID, How Can Museums Remain Essential? By Torey Akers

While museums suffered immensely during COVID-19, as history narrates that disease and war diminished art and the humanities, it seems that museums are nonetheless flourishing, and more museums are being built or renovated. This is not unexpected. Humans live on connection, and museums and art accentuate this connection. During the pandemic, I joined an online group called “For the Love of Art,” which hosted online art sessions from Bosotn when I was living in Montreal at the time. Many people were longing for those sessions and attended to connect, socialize, examine, and interpret art pieces, or meet with curators. This article also discussed how museums emerged from the pandemic to shift their focus to make the visitor experience more engaging and unparalleled.

Akers seems to think the same way. The pandemic has forced museums to reestablish their values within society and rethink the ways in which they connect with it. I wish that the article had expanded on the digitization of museums or the hybrid museum. It seems that we have fertile soil for digitization, but this route is yet to be explored.