Whether your comfort zone is in science or the arts, you can probably connect to the ICOM equation for 2013: Museums (memory + creativity) = social change.
ICOM is, of course, the International Council of Museums and May 18 is this year’s International Museum Day. So the equation is pointing us to the role of museum as actor; not just a passive keeper of the old and the rare. It’s noting that museum professionals don’t just display artifacts in a random way but interpret them and put them in context. And it’s flagging a responsibility to do these jobs in a way that is thoughtful and fresh and relevant.
It’s an evolutionary view of the role of museums. As ICOM Director General Julien Anfruns said in announcing the IMD theme for the year, museums have to strive to reconcile “their traditional mission of preservation with cultivation of the creativity necessary for renewal and visitor growth…”
Challenged to consider the role and relevance of the UWI Museum, Student Assistant Sophia Benjamin took a thoughtful walk through the gallery and concluded that the museum keeps the university’s rich history alive and presents a wealth of knowledge via different media, thereby catering to a range of audiences. “It inspires, educates, tells stories and helps people to create their own identity and to understand and appreciate the past.”
How so?: “A carved rock from Gibraltar is a reminder that the site of the university once housed a large community of persons from Gibraltar during the 2nd World War” she said.
“Artifacts and monuments of Sir Philip Sherlock and Sir Hugh Springer are also present. These West Indians were influential in the establishment of the university, even in colonial times, and as such their legacy lives on giving students and also the staff a feeling of pride.”
Baby steps – our first birthday is coming up at the end of June – but feels like the right direction.
Wherever you are, support a museum this week!