May 20, 2012
Against the Infantilization of the Natural History Museum
Justin E. H. Smith in his blog:
It has often struck me that no greater misfortune can befall a natural history museum than for it to come into enough money for renovations. These typically take the form of interactive screens displaying 'fun facts' directed at eight-year-olds, and they require the removal of anything that reeks of the past, which is to say also the removal of the very idea of natural history, in favor of some eternally present, unceasingly entertaining, Chuck E. Cheese-like arcade.
Just think about it: what kind of adult goes to a nature museum these days? I mean an adult who does not have some child in tow: a child, it is presumed, in need of perpetual edification? I mean a proper, auto-edifying, end-in-him-or-herself adult. These days, museums that are not about art are about nature, nature is about science, science is about education, and education, as we know, is for the kids, insofar as they, finally, are the future.
Art for the grown-ups, then; nature for the kids. But education must be fun, so out with the rancid body parts in formaldehyde with calligraphic labels in Latin; in with the touch screens that tell you, as if you did not already know this since the age of two or so, that dinosaurs are birds, that Pluto is no longer a planet, and, in case you forgot this for a fraction of a second, that learning is fun. But all this thoroughly and disgustingly ideological rebranding requires money, which, as I've already suggested, the best museums of natural history do not have.
Posted by S. Abbas Raza at 08:42 AM | Permalink