The Lecture Hall was packed last week for a Volunteer coffee morning which included a talk from Chris Elmer, lecturer at the University of Southampton, ‘It’s all in the mind: how museums make the past come alive’.
Chris is also one of the Trustees of The Salisbury Museum, has a wide-ranging background in museum work, especially museum education, and he has a PhD in Archaeology, looking at public engagement with archaeology. He is currently doing research into aspects of archaeology, running a community excavation and leading university students on fieldwork and other archaeology modules. A busy man who we are glad, found time for us last week.
It was a thought provoking talk which included some background to the history of museums and how they have changed over the last couple of centuries. The point was made that they are very variable today as ideas change about what the public are looking for. People come to be educated, as part of a social event (a family day out) and for any number of other reasons, even just to get out of the rain. All must be catered for. One man’s meat is another man’s….indigestion? The museums must survive, so finance is a factor. Race, gender, religion, what is history? are all problems…or are they opportunities? What about new technologies? Where is all going…?
In Britain, surveys have shown than the attraction of our museums is a major factor in foreigners coming here as tourists so all of this is important in that sense too.
In a nice finish Chris underlined the fact that in the end it is all about engagement and that the Volunteers present for the talk were largely engagement volunteers whose warmth, welcome and knowledge can overcome difficulties and override shortcomings. And you do.
Thanks Bridget for organising another excellent gathering.