Technology has a strange way of making us isolated. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been in a social situation and everyone is on their phone. I recall days when I lived in Victoria with 5 roommates and all of us sat in our living room using our laptops and not speaking a word. It’s too easy to find independent entertainment that separates us from others.
What I consider to be the most important reason someone should visit a museum rather than look at collections online is the opportunity for social interaction. This is not to say that technology can’t facilitate communication – video chat programs like Skype have irreversibly altered long-distance relationships and education – but there is something to be said about being in the same physical space as a person and being able to understand their body language and expressive gestures as well as the words they are saying.
Museums are a great destination for families or groups because discussion is an essential part of teaching and learning. One of the best ways to learn is by teaching and this can take place between generations with older generations explaining text panels and younger generations demonstrating their knowledge through hands-on activities. Many museums offer programs that encourage social interaction within peer groups and exhibits are designed to help you think beyond the presented material and ask questions. Speaking in groups or to just one other person can help spark new ideas and thoughts. A recent study showed that adults are most engaged in learning opportunities when they are designed to facilitate conversation.
Museums provide ready conversation topics and make you forget about needing to do a load of laundry or figure out what to make for dinner long enough to appreciate the company of the people you’re with. Even if you happen to go to a museum by yourself, you can strike up a conversation with interpreters, tour guides, staff, volunteers or even other visitors. Spend a day at a museum – even if you don’t remember how froth flotation works or what year the mine closed an hour after you leave, you’ll have a great day out - museums are a great place to make memories with friends and family.
This is Part Four and the final post of the "Why Visit a Museum or Art Gallery" Blog Series.
Thanks for reading along with us for the past month!
Part One: Museums Cater to Multiple Intelligences
Part Two: Museums Have Experts
Part Three: Museums are an Immersive Experience