When was the last time you went to a museum? Maybe an art museum or a historical museum or a cultural museum? Do you see Museum’s as an experience for the “elite” or is that a thing of the past?
I really appreciate this perspective on the importance of cultural heritage professionals and the role of the museum from both a cultural and sociological perspective. With changing times comes evolving roles. And in North America in particular where we have such a young country influenced by a uniquely diverse set of cultural heritage contexts, i think it’s becoming more and more important to preserve, learn, appreciate and revel in the cultural history that makes us an “us” and reminds us of our shared human heritage.
Yet another thankless profession in the practice of “narcissistic anthropology”.
Originally posted on Archaeology, Museums & Outreach:
A few months ago I posted a Museum Practices seminar student, Leila Hamdan’s response to the following question:
Put yourself in the position of John or Josephine Q. Public. In the current economic chaos, the bank is foreclosing on their home, they have lost their jobs, and the city just reduced their public services. In referring to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the House Budget Committee recently arguedthat “The activities and content funded by these agencies…are generally enjoyed by people of higher income levels, making them a wealth transfer from poorer to wealthier citizens.” Isn’t your research or the position you aspire to as a museum professional just another example of this wealth transfer? What do John and Josephine Q. Public get for their tax dollars that fund your research/position?
Since that time, I have asked these questions of my students more often in both formal and informal settings. I believe that the ability to articulate the relevance of cultural heritage professionals to the issues facing our country today is critically important. The essay below is a portion of the written comprehensive exam answer to my questions for University of Memphis Anthropology Graduate Student Mallory Bader. For her practicum project in Anthropology, Mallory coordinated last fall’s AmeriCorps Team project at the C.H. Nash Museum. As well, for the past two years, she served as a graduate assistant at the C.H. Nash Museum. And I should add, today Mallory successfully passed her written and oral comprehensive exams for her M.A. degree in Anthropology at the University of Memphis. Below is Mallory’s answer to the above question: