The Times in the UK has an annual essay contest in honor of its former editor Charles Douglas-Home. The question this year asked about the purpose of museums. The winner, James Delingpole, who incidentally also writes for the paper, believes museums should stay traditional. Forget rotating exhibits or serving the public. Screw presenting different historical perspectives or challenging an audience.
Delingpole wants a narrative, a dictate it seems–the history of museums, not their future.
It reminds me of the dispiriting way history is taught in school now where instead of the teacher giving you an idea of what actually happened you’re handed a variety of different texts and accounts of the same event and invited to make your own mind up. A nice idea: creating a nation of free thinking intellectuals. The problem is, it’s predicated on the lamentably optimistic notion that our ailing education system has given the nation sufficient intellectual grounding on which to form such subtle judgements.
– Riva Froymovich