Museums must make their collections accessible


Museums must make their collections accessible. In the past, this simply meant packing them into display cases, often with wordy labels that made little concession to the lay person. Nowadays, accessibility should demand more than this. Displays can be lively and interesting, making the best use of theatrical or architectural techniques to capture visitors' attention and perhaps stimulate emotional response. But museums should be about more than their displays. They should make their collections accessible to the widest possible community. The provision of loan boxes of objects for class teachers is one known example of this and, recently, this principle has been extended by some museums so that similar material is made available for use in treating elderly people who are losing their memory.
Museums concern themselves with 'artefacts and specimens' - not replicas. They exist to facilitate an encounter with authenticity. They present items that actually existed - were used - had meaning - at some historical time. This is their great strength, and is what distinguishes them from heritage centres and theme parks, books and CD-ROMs. Museums which rise to the challenge which this distinction implies and provide exciting and accessible displays, catalogues and outreach programmes, will find that their apparent competitors in 'virtual history' are in fact their allies, stimulating an appetite for the 'real thing' that museums are uniquely placed to satisfy.

23 The advantage of today's museums over older museums is that
A. they draw on resources in the community.
B. they are more affordable for the non-expert.
C. they go beyond the merely visual.
D. they have more space for their collections.

24 ln the second paragraph, the writer implies that museums
A. are failing to keep pace with changing technology.
B. need to realise that their future lies in their own efforts.
C. may have been too competitive in the past.
D. are too preoccupied with the notion of authenticity.

Museums must make their collections accessible

Text: Cambridge University Press

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