Thursday 27 June 2013

British Museums Urged to Change Focus to "Change Lives"

British museums have been urged by the Museums Association to do more to make a difference to the lives of those in their towns and cities to "commit to improving [their] impact on society". The Association said the time was right "for museums to transform their contribution to contemporary life". This need is all the more important in the light of the social disintegration taking place in so many areas
It cited projects with unemployed and homeless people, isolated older people and looked-after [sic] children. [...] Good examples, the association said, included the Museum of Liverpool's House of Memories project, which uses artefacts in dementia therapy. The association also pointed to an art scheme with homeless people who slept rough outside Hollytrees Museum in Colchester and activities to celebrate cultural links between Luton and Pakistan. [...]
They also do a lot of work with socially disadvantaged people with metal detectorists. Not everybody agrees that this is a good thing:
critics fear a change in focus may come at the expense of preservation and research at a time when the numbers of specialist curators are in decline. [...] Dr John Nudds, a senior lecturer in palaeontology at the University of Manchester, said: "In my opinion the raison d'etre of our museums is the preservation of our national heritage. [...] this new role that museums are currently undertaking is to the detriment of the collections. Social work is nothing to do with museums."

Here's the Hollytrees project.

Ian Youngs, "Museums urged to 'change lives'...", BBC News 27 June 2013.

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