Why does every museum need to have propaganda?
January 27, 2013 25 Comments
If it’s a natural history museum, it will have a section on how we’re destroying the earth. If it’s an aquarium, it will have a section on how we’re destroying the oceans. If it’s a historical museum, it will have a section devoted to the atrocities we’ve committed against whatever peoples. Etc.
You sort of learn to ignore these things, as obligatory tics of whatever sect it is that runs museums. But really, why are they necessary? Have we forgotten how to make museums that are just museums?
Also, the museumers seem not to realize that these things are just too ‘topical’ for what they’re supposed to be doing. Suppose (for example) that 1000 years elapse and the oceans still don’t get destroyed. Surely future aquariums in the year 3113 won’t still at that time include the whiny lectures on plastic bags, the exhibit of the soda bottle covered with seaweed, etc. There is a tension between the (supposedly) timeless nature of a museum and getting them all caught up in the cause du jour that I don’t think is being fully priced in here.
As it stands, it renders the experience somewhat akin to passing around the offering plate at Sunday service: something obligatory, part of the ritual, that you don’t particularly enjoy but you know is coming and is part of the price you pay.