As the fast evenings of winter 2016 darken the edges of our lives like a poorly lit photo, we have to continue to look for hope. I find it in museums.
Looking backward to move forward is embodied in our museums. Preserving, interpreting, understanding, and above all, sharing culture and science with everyone. Museums are a refuge for knowledge as well as artifacts.
Museums are sharing their collections online. The Google Arts and Culture Institute allows you to get up close to paintings from far away galleries in your browser, and Google Streetview enables any place in the world to be an artists' reference. Maker spaces, game jams, and hackathons are becoming more common in art galleries, libraries, and museums. Learning is everywhere, and sharing knowledge is stronger than ever in museums' mandate. A quick search along the #musetech hashtag on Twitter shows museum workers sharing their explorations in storytelling.
Of course museums suffer under anti-science, anti-elite regimes. "Infotainment" can replace rich facts, and reduced funding can shutter collections and the positions for those who study them. In the worst cases, we've seen works of art blown up and museums looted and burned. Digital preservation is no worthy replacement for original artifacts, but it is still something. Something to hold on to, shared everywhere.
Visiting museums makes me stronger as an artist. The windows museums provide into other times, perspectives, and cultures make us all stronger. In 2017, let's support each other and support sharing knowledge. Support museums. Light those memories up.
- Five Stories of Art Saved from Wars' Annihilation by Allison Meier for Hyperallergic
- How to Destroy Priceless Works of Art by Glendon Mellow on Symbiartic at Scientific American
- Map Crunch by James Gurney on Gurney Journey
- A Perfect Museum Photo by Glendon Mellow, featuring art by Liz Butler, on Symbiartic.