WHAT ARE MUSEUMS FOR?
is probably one of the hottest questions in the field.
Some possible answers are:
1) Preserve our heritage (museums can keep safe fragile and ancient objects, for instance).
2) Tell stories about the past and the present (or, as some say, "through the eyes of the present").
3) Inspire urban change (have you ever heard about urban regeneration? Museums can contribute).
4) School trips! (however, they should inspire a different kind of learning from school).
5) Make your aunt happy (and this makes it easier to think about her birthday present).
There is no right answer and never just one. In this list, for instance, some relevant aims are missing such as supporting personal change or enhance community involvement. In any case, depending on the answer, museums can be very different one from the other.
MUSEUMS ARE FOR PEOPLE
Whatever museums' aims, in the opinions of many, museums have to be for people first: places where humans feel comfortable, facilitated to understand what is around them and supported to develop their own ideas.
WELCOMING PEOPLE IS REMOVING BARRIERS
As people, we are different from each other. We have different needs and motivations and that is why, to make it simple, we find different barriers, often overlapped one other. Here a few examples:
ACCESSIBILITY IS THE KEY
Accessibility is the quality of the environment and services of being easy to use by as many people as possible. It is not about niche audiences, outside of the average, but about the opportunity to change our idea of what we usually perceive as the average.
DIVERSITY FOSTERS CRITICAL THINKING
There is no normalcy: there is just diversity. The more museums will provide opportunities to engage with diversity itself (in terms of people but also approaches and tools) the more they will allow visitors to find their own way to learn, collecting different experiences and reflections.
LEARNING IS EVERYWHERE
Learning deals a lot with accessibility and is not just about knowledge and facts. Learning, in fact, deals with values, skills, attitudes and behavior, enjoyment and creativity. As museum professionals, we can always facilitate learning or not: it's all upon us!
IT'S ALL ABOUT STRATEGY
Whatever our dreaming museum, the actions to achieve our visions should be carefully planned. We should think big, as well as look at details, and define a strategy on long terms (and everybody happily ever after).
Museums for people is a small drawing project about all these issues and many others museum-related, for lovers and professionals. More stories are ready to come, enjoy!