We hope that you have been following Doug’s ‘wider’ History Spots in the Newsletter. Doug has sent us on tours of major British and European Museum’s, as well as more local Museum’s. The aim was to excite people about opportunities to explore and learn from history, and maybe plan trips as we ease out of lockdown.
Here Linda Vijeh shares her experiences of Museums and how they have enriched her learning.
“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything.” So said author Michael Crichton, and I agree with him wholeheartedly.
For me, the best way to learn about the places I visit is to go to a museum or two. Not the huge national museums stuffed full of precious artefacts from around the world; I much prefer quirky local museums that focus on a particular local craft or tradition. Somewhere that I can idle away an hour or two, rather than being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of objects on display. Over many years of travelling, I have visited hundreds, including the pre-Columbian art museum in Lima, Peru, the torture museum in Santillana del Mar, Spain, the Musical Museum in London, and one of my all-time favourites, the Derwent Pencil Museum.
Locally, having been initially appointed as the South Somerset District CounciI representative, I was so taken with Chard Museum. I have now been a trustee for many years.
The image of Victoria Avenue offers the opportunity for people to understand why change has happened and question the impact on the local community.
For centuries, museums have played a vital role in preserving the history of our society. Exhibits and events inform us about how our country, our communities and our cultures came to be. Without this, such stories would be forgotten, providing the invidious prospect of re-writing history and airbrushing out undesirable events. Maybe an example of this was the behaviour of people in Bristol last year.
Museums serve our communities in so many ways, whether it is in providing the opportunity for children to see and experience with their own eyes how their ancestors lived, or for those who in their advanced years welcome a trip down memory lane.
Whilst museums can often seem simply places where forgotten objects go to enjoy their final years, at a local level it is crucial that we seek to preserve the history and culture that has shaped who we are and where we are today.
In the uncertain times we have been facing for the last year, museums can act as a reality check in the midst of the storm. There is so much that we can learn from the past, and which can help to shape our future.
Local museums can help to bring communities together, to take ownership of their environment. They are able to provide a sense of community and place, bringing people together through public events, workshops and lectures, even if at present this takes the form of virtual meetings.
Modern technology has completely transformed museums, making them more accessible to everyone. They are no longer just spaces in which to look at and learn from its exhibits. Visitors are now encouraged to interact and participate, and for those unable to attend in person, museums and galleries are increasingly sharing their collections online.
Many will recognsie this image, how has it changed, why and what is the impact on the local community.
Like many small museums, Chard Museum is entirely run by volunteers and provides excellent opportunities for anyone to offer their skills and talents in ensuring that it remains a vibrant, relevant part of the local community, whether it be stewarding, maintaining our collections, organising events, engaging with schools, writing stories from our archives, supporting people to research our archives that are not on display, developing our ‘Museum Without Walls’ through the website, or fund raising; there is always something to be done.
Many thanks to our friends at the Chard Flyer for allowing us to reprint Linda's article for a wider audience.