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Museums Will Rescue Us

Museums Will Rescue Us

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. Credit:  Glendon Mellow

Museums, art galleries and libraries are poised once again to be civilization's rescuers.

And they are up to the task like never before

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. 

I saw this tweet from the Royal Ontario Museum (@ROMToronto) and it made me think about how museums are fulfilling their mission better than ever before. 

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 spacesgame 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. 

Further reading:

The Future of Symbiartic

The Future of Symbiartic

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Trilobite Eggs