Reconsidering the Value of Museums

By Natalia Patila ’23

The carelessness of Gen-Z might be the downfall of museums. Technology has proven that it can take over the world. Like anything else, the digital age we are in has its positives and negatives, but it cannot take over the foundation of preserving history through museums.

Archeological, art, living history, military, natural history, science: The options are endless and so are the benefits of keeping museums open. High school students like myself remember going to museums for field trips in elementary school, but most of us couldn’t understand the value of them. Educating children on the importance of museums might make them more inclined to be interested in school subjects such as history.

First, most people aren’t aware of the work that occurs behind the scenes, such as academic research. Krieg Accrocco, a curator of anthropology, has recently said, “There’s always discovery in our collections…” Museums not only preserve history, but they also conduct research to broaden the knowledge of the field. Researching is a fundamental core of museum activities.

If the amount of research they conduct is not enough to show their importance, museums also benefit the economy. According to Artsentry, “…the museum industry contributes around $50 billion to the United States economy each year, and there are more than 725,000 jobs associated with these institutions.” Replacing that amount would not be an easy task to complete if museums stopped existing.

So, museums benefit the economy and now they can work with technology, not against it. Rebecca Carlsson from MuseumNext said, “When the device is pointed at certain sculptures, artefacts or paintings, more information about them is made available.” The device she mentions is a handheld device that is available to anyone who wants to access more details about a specific work of art. Another technological device which benefits museums is the “x-ray” which allows visitors to see the interior of a mummy. Museums are now up-to-date enough for Gen-Z.

A New York Times article mentions how museums are not necessary because everything is online now-a-days. While the second part of their argument is correct, they are not considering the number of people who will be negatively affected by museums’ extinction. As mentioned previously, more than half a million jobs are associated with museums and if they stop existing, those people will be unemployed and face many hardships.

Rebecca Carlsson emphasizes, “Not only can our museums bring history to life, but they can also shine a light on both our present and our future – a light which can be hard to find elsewhere.

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