History museums come in different shapes, sizes and themes. They dot almost every big city in the world and pay homage and highlights issues that transcends all spheres of human life. Whether multiple or single-themed, the collection of historical and current artifacts on display in various sections of museums are laden with critical messages to general and specific audiences. Whether documenting dark histories and moments of human life, the victories of individuals, agencies, institutions and societies or paying homage to incredible achievements of communities and individuals, museums play a central in shaping our present and future. The role they in shaping the direction of our societies is critical. The contribution museums in reshaping and reaffirming our belief systems and worldviews is immeasurable. Therefore, history museums should be supported both morally and financially by the government.
The world is awash with natural history that can play a vital in shaping our societies. One of the primary purposes of setting up a history museum is collection and conservation of historical materials, artifacts and objects. It is collection, conservation of these artifacts and availing them to the general public that history museums can expand to other purposes. History museums are for educational purposes. The hundreds of museums, some of which have well-researched information, can be used to educate the masses on fundamental issues that overarch history and art. Artifacts provide valuable lessons on economic, social, cultural and political activities of the communities and societies where the objects and art pieces were collected (Kelly, 2006b). Slavery, Holocaust, world wars, and revolutions such as the American Revolution Industrial and Agrarian revolutions occurred several decades ago. However, the past, current and future generations can relive and learn such histories through the numerous historical artifacts, objects and materials in various history museums spread across the globe (Kelly, 2006b). These museums including the DuSable Museum which focuses on African-American history including slavery and Civil Rights Movement (Great Museums Television, 2019).
Moreover, artifacts, objects and materials conserved in history museums can be also be used to underscore and reiterate the importance of historical events. The events of the Holocaust which occurred during World War II, slavery, Civil Rights Movement, and World War I and II can be proven, underscored and reiterated with the various artifacts, materials and objects found in various history museums within the country and overseas. They can also confront and challenge various misconceptions about past events and cultures (Cameron, 2006; Thrasher, 2016). Additionally, these artifacts have entertainment value which makes history museums important entertainment spots that attracts revelers from far and wide. The sociocultural, entertainment and economic values translate to economic benefits especially for the local economies through tourism revenue, job opportunities and promotion of cultural heritage (Kelly, 2006a).
By facilitating the documentation of natural history, museums play a critical role in shaping public opinion, national cohesion and integration, and sociocultural, economic and political development. Policies that affect all spheres of life are founded on historical events. Despite their lack of huge direct financial benefits, they create an environment suitable for greater socioeconomic growth and development and inclusion. Moreover, the educative value of history museums make them valuable assets when it comes to nation building. Today, education, socioeconomic and political development, and societal integration and inclusion are issues of increasing importance to the government and the general public (Museums Associations, 2017; Thrasher, 2016). By financially and morally supporting history museums, the government moves a step closer to achieve these fundamental governance issues. When supported effectively, history museums can offer the government platforms for a greater sense of nationhood, pride, and identity and a great way to promote national heritage (Kelly, 2006a).
Cameron, F. (2006). Beyond surface representations: Museums, edgy topics, civic responsibilities and modes of engagement. Open Museum Journal, 8.
Great Museums Television. (2019). Black History Museums: The DuSable. Great Museums Television. Retrieved from: http://greatmuseums.org/explore/more/black_history_museums_the_dusable
Kelly, L. (2006a). Measuring the impact of museums on their communities: The role of the 21st century museum. INTERCOM 2006 Conference Paper. Retrieved from: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/2eed/1a137651637c86f9a7093ce0bffe6f167bae.pdf
Kelly, L. (2006b). Museums as sources of information and learning: The decision-making process. Open Museum Journal, 8.
Museums Associations. (2017). The impact of museums. Museums Associations (MA). Retrieved from: https://www.museumsassociation.org/museums-change-lives/the-impact-of-museums
Thrasher, S. W. (2016 Sept. 16). The Smithsonian’s African American museum – a monument to respectability politics. The Guardian. Retrieved from: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/sep/16/smithsonian-museum-african-american-history-respectability-politics