In Nina Simon’s TED talk, “Opening up the Museum,” she emphasizes the importance of museums in facilitating positive interactions among people and elaborates her ways of making museums more accessible and engaging for the visitors. Personally, as a frequent visitor to a variety of exhibitions in museums, I have witnessed the transformation in museum designs through the past few years. While when I was young, museum seemed to me as somewhere exciting yet sacred and unapproachable, I find museums nowadays to be increasingly intriguing because of the interactive activities, such as drawing games and attractive narratives, and the instructive guidance from museum workers that bring me closer to the artifacts inside. Therefore, I fully acknowledge Nina’s statement of museums being opened up for more people to get involved and have deeper and more personal conversations with others.
However, besides the influence from innovations in the design and format of museums, I believe that the bigger social environment and globalization also play a critical role in bringing about this change in human engagement in museums. Nowadays, with the wide coverage of internet, the majority of people interact extensively with each other on social media. Many apps are even specifically designed for strangers to have an opportunity to connect and talk about contents that they would not converse about in real life. Thus, people in the new decade are more open to share their inner thoughts with strangers than before, putting down their vigilance around strangers. The same applies to people’s interactions in museums. Strangers can have meaningful conversations with one another in the museum not only because of the help and inspirations from the museum design, but also because of the fact that this is no longer an unusual incident according to the new social norm. Similarly, with globalization, people who were originally oblivious to news happening in the society and also their local communities now have the opportunity to be updated with daily changes around them. People are not only passive recipients of information, they are also active agents on the internet by commenting on social news and reacting to other people’s commentaries likewise. Therefore, people nowadays have more confidence in their opinions being valued and listened by others. Thus, in museums, people of the new era are willing to provide constructive feedbacks to the museums and share meaningful stories of themselves related to the artworks.
While it is encouraging to see museums opening up to the public, one issue museum curators might face in this endeavor is how they could still maintain the scholarly and professional nature of museums. Finding the boundary between keeping the museums well respected and making them compelling and entertaining in the meantime could be difficult, as people might start going to museums solely to be entertained instead of to be educated.