'Museums need to be more engaging'

Vast treasure

Blurton spoke about some of the challenges that curators of museums faced and offered a few solutions — drawn from his own vast experience — that would help to remedy them. He also stressed on the need to create a more interactive environment in museums, wherein the public could come to expand their horizons. Blurton had visited the City before, in 2010, and expressed his happiness at coming back here. He began his talk with a theory-based lecture on the ways of engagement open to contemporary museums. In doing so, he tried to compare the situations faced by museums in India, as well as the British Museum.

Blurton suggested to the audience that the purpose of museums has changed over the last few decades. “Today, museums are expected to be centres of cultural interaction and experimentation,” he said, adding that they were no more considered to be just depositories of artefacts. When it came to defining a ‘museum’, he said, “It also means art museums, art galleries and institutions where the public is exposed to works of college.”

He suggested that it is high time museums understood the need for a more ‘engaged education’. “Museums should have staff who can engage with the public, and impart their knowledge. In India, there are some museums that do this, and others that don’t,” he said, adding that this was the situation in many other parts of the world as well.

Blurton also put forth a few suggestions on how museums could achieve this interactive atmosphere. He believes that rare material could achieve more visibility if it was organised into temporary exhibitions. However, he was quick to add that because of issues of funding, this was only a short-term solution. Another suggestion that he brought up was that museums loan out their material to other institutions more frequently, as he felt that this would allow the material to travel as widely as possible.

The last suggestion that Blurton brought up was that museums make better use of the internet. He felt that this was the most effective way to allow people all over the globe to see the material of the museum. “There is an ever more engagement with international audience on the web. In fact, the British Museum has put up an object database on the web. Although there’s no substitute for actually seeing this material, it’s better to see it electronically than not at all,” he explained.

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