It is apparent that museums today are undergoing some radical changes. These changes reflect shifts in the relationships between dominant western cultures and those of indigenous, minority, and marginalized cultures everywhere. Historically, people have perceived museums in their own conservative sense.
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This has made archivists in museums to respond to the conservative instincts of the people, thus causing moral dilemmas and premeditated challenges. Despite the challenges, it is imperative to note that museums act as agents in the development of culture. Meanwhile, the main goal is to foster knowledge through a process of continuous reinterpretation.
Besides this, they narrow their focus on collections that are multifaceted and diverse in order to cover a wide range of target audiences. For this reason, museums’ policies designs and stored artifacts are subject to change to fulfill their main goal. Due to these myriad facets of change, this paper discusses the challenges facing museum in the contemporary era. Moreover, the discussion will also expound on how best to respond to such challenges.
One of the major challenges affecting museums is the fact that they have failed to prioritize the audience preferences. Since this is seemingly a major concern, world museums have relentlessly attempted to seek for ways and means of accommodating large number of audience.
On the same note, they also want to advance their role in research. Quite often, research and audience interest might not coincide since scientific researches go beyond the visible and tangible world. Archivists use this knowledge to design, categorize and preserve collections in museums.
Additionally, most of the museums fail to identify their key targeted audience. In this case, they design their own archivist displays that their audiences perceive to be unsuitable. It is vivid that for a long time, museums have used the common way of doing things forgetting that new ideas and practices have transfigured people’s perception. At this juncture, it is evident that museums face dilemma on deciding what to display in order to match with the tastes and preferences of their target audience.
According to researchers, presentation in museum can at times deter acceptance from the target audience. There is empirical evidence that museums are changing frequently to match the demand and expectations of their target audiences. As a matter of fact, there is a huge challenge in determining how to shape collections, create exhibitions and organize programs.
Another daunting challenge facing museum is the issue of illegal trafficking of artistic artifacts and ethnic objects (www.architectmagazine.com). In recent decades, some communities have reclaimed certain ethnic objects that were obtained from them. Ethnic groups claim some of the monumental objects and to some extent they fail to surrender them to museums. Moreover, policies that were followed by museums to acquire monumental objects have kept changing from time to time.
There have been critics where individuals from different part of the world to claim artifacts that were shipped form their countries to other places. This has raised controversy across the globe since it is perceived that the return of such artifacts would cause damage to them. It is evident that during the 17th to 19th century, site seers toured places and carried artifacts of material culture to their native countries.
Such artifacts were later surrendered to their country’s museum. A good example includes the British government that has been pressured by the Greeks to return back their Elgin marbles. However, through the universal museum declaration in 2002, the pressure to demand back such objects were curtailed. Movement of museum artifacts was restituted with the aim of enhancing a reflection of ancient values and phenomenon that existed at the time of acquisition.
In line with this, museums have put more emphasis on displaying artifacts for audience rather than creating meaning. According to research conducted in various museums, there exist long rows that are crowded by artifacts each under a certain theme. However, the labels that are put along with such artifacts normally provide scanty information. The main challenge is that, museums have been perceived as educational centers for the educated few.
Moreover, this disadvantages visitors who lack adequate background information about the artifacts in the museum. In line with this, lacks of understanding deter visitors from appreciating artifacts on display. Therefore, museums have been considered as reputable avenues where individual obtain accurate information on material culture in an entertaining manner.
However, this can only be achieved by engaging the heritage with come interpretations. However, lack of experimentation techniques such as videos and multimedia presentations make people not to learn about museum artifacts.
Nonetheless, there are possible recommendations for the challenges. For instance, the international museum community should discourage illegal trafficking of artifacts from museums. It is worth to mentions that artifacts that were acquired earlier need to be perceived lightly considering the numerous values, sensitivity and reflections of ancient eras. Additionally, monumental objects that have been identified should be acquired by museums through legal processes.
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Procedures that should be used include purchasing, portaging and rewarding the immediate communities who are already part and parcel of the museums. By so doing, the communities will have the will to protect such monuments as part of their heritage. Moreover, policies pertaining acquisition of archaeological and cultural artifacts should be kept constant and favorable thus making the communities involved to have the will to surrender them peacefully.
Consistently, museum archivists should design their displays in a manner that they favor the interest of various target audience such as visitors, learners and the general public. Besides this, they should also provide artifacts that have well defined subject in term of their original context and detailed information of their environment. Museums should not change abruptly with change in technology and values. Instead, they should incorporate artifacts that are rich in ancient and modern civilization.
Availing such artifacts in museum will foster universal admiration of world culture in the international sphere even for the forth coming generation. Nevertheless, the universal museum declaration should take keen measures to avoid inter-state conflict such as that which existed between Greek and United Kingdom. This can be attained by restituting activities involved in stealing, misappropriating, trading and re-representation of work of art in museums.
To recap it all, it is imperative to note that despite the changes in museums due to modernization and cultural evolutions, artifacts still remain excellent in illustrating human civilization. They describe how human culture developed from antiquity and its evolution up to the contemporary epoch. It is worth to mention that museums are not only meant to entertain but also to educate and inform society.
Moreover, museums should not merely benefit audience of a particular country. Nevertheless, contemporary challenges facing museums can be decimated through a collaborative effort in the international arena.
Flynn, Tom. The Universal Museum: a valid model for the 21st century? 2011. Web.
Wise, Michael. The New Acropolis Museum, a Minimalist Showcase for Ancient Greek Art. 8 Sep. 2009. Web.