By Kate Macuen, Assistant Director
I recently returned from a two day retreat with the Florida Association of Museum’s Board of Directors. It was a productive couple of days where we discussed strategic planning for the organization. As with any strategic planning session, we addressed some hard questions, such as: If the organization stopped existing tomorrow, would anyone care? Breakout groups and brainstorming sessions during the retreat generated a lot of discussion on the value of museums within our communities.
At one point the facilitator threw out another tough question: Why are museums vital? We began to point out the more obvious reasons—museums are educational, they preserve our heritage, and they help drive the economy. Someone then added, “Museums are vital because they are agents of change.” This struck a chord.
Museums are agents of change because they challenge us with diverse perspectives. They put the history that they work so hard to preserve into context with current social, political, and economic issues. They connect us with new ideas and information.
Museums are agents of change because they can change people’s lives.
The value of museums is simple- they impact our lives. Looking back at my own experiences I can see how the simple act of visiting museums has changed my own life. Some experiences have been dramatic, while others have sparked a quieter, introspective moment. I have visited exhibitions and had a powerful shift in perspective, giving me a new understanding of a historic event. I’ve stood in front of a favorite painting and recalled memories from my past. I’ve connected with people I may have otherwise never met through a shared experience at an interactive display that showed the ins and outs of the human nervous system. How amazing to have places like this in our world that give us spaces to learn from one another’s heritage and knowledge.
I am so glad to be part of the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum team, who strives every day to be change agents. Our team shows me how their dedication to sharing the Seminole story translates into meaningful and impactful experiences for our community and visitors. Being an agent of change is no easy task, but 2019 is looking bright as we march ahead with the courage and conviction in knowing that the work we do can leave a lifelong impression.
How have museums impacted your life? Share with us in the comments below!