I have worked at The Museé du Louvre and Notre Dame, in Paris, and provided tours of Colonial Newport and Doris Duke’s Rough Point mansion.The impact of the past on our present depends on encouraging people to make connections, not by a click of a mouse but by word of mouth.
History comes alive when curiosity is met with enthusiasm. You can lose someone’s attention if you project a stream of information without any personal undertones. There’s Google for that. Contrary to the perception of what it means to show someone around unfamiliar terrain, I prefer engaging over pointing.
The physical landscape of a museum lends itself to observation and discussion. When visitors walk through museum’s doors, they bring with them the contemporary issues of the day to a place that is both a social and solitary opportunity.
History is displayed through objects and art, which occupy space in the room and hang right there on the walls. Cultural relevance is easier to identify, relate to, and critically approach when you can see an object, hear its story, and feel secure enough to voice your own interpretation.
In this way, learning about history in the context of a museum is a safe haven. Adults and children can practice their intellectual skills and then project those same abilities beyond the museum walls to interpret their own world.