On a recent trip to Washington D.C., our class saw the exhibit, Can You Walk Away? at Lincoln’s Cottage. The exhibit raised awareness on modern-day slavery by using taped testimonies from survivors. The exhibit was compelling and easily captured everyone’s attention, and no object were needed in the exhibit.
So the question of the day is, do museums still need objects? In the past, museums were viewed as collecting institutions, today they are education centers. The focus on collecting objects has become less of a priority for some museums in recent decades, leaving many collections in the dark and unknown to the public. So what should we do with unwanted or unused collections?
Erin Richardson, who believes that museums still need objects, points out that less established museums may lack the resources to have own a collection that they may need. As a solution, museums, who lack collections or objects, could request objects from other institutions and then use those loaned objects in their exhibits. Not only will it take the object out of the dark storage facility, but in return the loaned objects will get seen by more people, and this will increase the public and other institutions’ awareness of the types of collections that are available or hidden at certain museums.
With that said, how would you feel about lending your own objects to another institution? Should museums have a more organized system for lending objects or making more collections known to other institutions.
1. Richardson, Erin. Interview by Jeanette Sanchez. 18 November 2013.