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Tuesday, 02 February 2010


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Awareness Home Funding

Thought provoking post. Being a visual learner, I enjoyed school trips to the museum in the pre-tactile days (before interactive exhibits)and especially loved the "fake" scenes of various points of history. The museums I've ventured into in the past decade (from the Children's Museum in Ann Arbor and the Grand Rapids Museum to the Louvre and the Musee D'Orsay in Paris) were all inviting and inspiring. Not having ever worked or volunteered at a museum, I would like to see other's opinions on the question of allowing those without credentials view and handle non-displayed collections.

Marianne K Nishibayashi

I think it depends on what we're viewing as credentials. A good friend of mine used to work in one of the major museums and the right credentials for having access to collections not on view was an ability to show "scholarly intent". That meant you might be a student putting together a project, or a historian, or an ordinary person with a very deep interest who wanted to expand your knowledge. You didn't need any specific qualifications or recommendations, but you had to have a reasonable reason to ask to see the collection.

She told me that other museums weren't so easy going, though, and required a written recommendation from someone like a head of department at a university, or something like that. University academics and other museums could have access, but not independent scholars.

I think my friend's museum had it right - as long as a person can demonstrate a good reason for wanting to see something, such as researching for a book or writing an essay, they should be allowed to see it.

G. R. Collia

I had to get a written recommendation the first time I visited a museum to see the Japanese prints that weren't on exhibition. That was some years ago now... around 1986, I believe. I can't remember what was on the form I had to fill in, but I believe the emphasis was on my 'good character' rather than my intent. I was at art college at the time, so got the head of department to sign it for me. I don't believe that museum still asks for a form to be filled in... the last time I went they only needed a firm appointment. Thinking about that form brings back memories though... I was so excited. I was told that the museum had previously asked for two recommendations, not just the one.


I feel uncomfortable in museums somehow. Even when I am interested in something the whole athmosphere there suggests that you don't talk loudly, don't touch anything, go the way you are told to go. Not that I am going to touch anything or be the loudest person around. But sometimes I want to discuss what I see with a friend and once we start talking people start looking at us with disapproval.

G. R. Collia

Yes, the imposed silence in some museums can be rather uncomfortable. The objects in museums and galleries really should spark discussion... it's a good thing. My husband chats away to his heart's content and it's rubbed off on me over the years (I used to be very shy). I love the way children are too curious to be quiet... no amount of disapproving looks will stop them asking questions and getting excited. The people who issue those looks have forgotten how to really enjoy what's around them... they've lost that youthful curiosity.

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A blog by Gina Collia-Suzuki: Art historian, history nut, writer, artist, Victorianist, bibliophile, vegetarian foodie, child of the Enlightenment, friend of Charles Darwin, full-time rat fancier and part-time assassin.

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