Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Dumbing Up - the new black for Museums


Dumbing Up
I came across this lovely phrase - dumbing up - yesterday. It was part of an article from the UK Times on museums and museum visitors. I twittered the phrase and got a bunch of direct queries as to what I meant.

I seem to have piqued an interest. Naturally the best place to find the phrase and the context is to go to the article, Why Museums Have become our home from home", by Hugo Rifkind, here.

There you will find the phrase pops up in the context of five theories as to why museums are now more popular than ever before.

Theory Two - of Five
'Dumbing up' is theory two - "as expounded by the likes of Melvyn Bragg, the broadcaster, and Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, it asserts that museum numbers are up because people are getting cleverer". Neat idea, and definitely worth a discussion. I for one think it is true. People are more and more interested in context, and for lots of us that means taking ideas, events, and feelings on big journeys.

The other four
The other theories as to why museums are more popular are - Museum as family friendly spaces [the dumb down argument lives here]: Museums as great places to meet friends - Museums as places of safety in a troubled world: Museums as creative play space for very young children: and my best pick of all: Museums as public space.

Museums as Public Space
- Auckland Museum Late at the Museum sessions
And speaking of which, just a note to say that the Auckland Museum is heading into its third session of their Late at The Museum evenings which combine debate and live entertainment.

Whaddarwe?
The next session is on Thursday April 2nd, 6:30 pm. The theme is 'Whaddarwe now? Are we really a nation of can-do, innovative, kid friendly, outdoorsy people? Or are we crime-ridden, unproductive, credit-junky, obesity-epidemic dreamers? Passionate or purposeless? '

Neil and Liam Finn
The music is from Neil and Liam Finn. This will sell out. So I guess you need to do the thing that Aucklanders are just not good at - book early! Here.

3 comments:

Bindy said...

Ah I love those typos - we imperfect typists whose brains go faster than out fingers ... but "dumping up" has to be a winner!

NB: I stopped taking my kids to the museum and the public library because both became just another battle zone to get them off the computers. As an ex public children's librarian this came hard. At the library, the explanation was 'digital divide'. At the museum I asked why not section the screens and sound off. I was told that the complexity was rooted in how both computers and displays were co funded by a corporate.

Whatever is the right theory the sound and screen pull certainly blasts any chance of the " quasi-mystical museum" .

It did work wonders for our local independant bookseller though....

Pete said...

There's some evidence for a generational increase in intelligence called the Flynn effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flynn_effect) - named after a professor down at Otago University

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