By Odutola Christian Amans
The essential value of museum collections is the information about the past that provides test for the present and what it means to the global community. Other institutions deal in information also, but only museum uniquely collects, preserves, researches, communicates and exhibits collection as an essential function of their existence.
However, one aspect has always been, will remain and will probably continue to be fundamental to the museum institutional identity; that is “exhibition”. It has the potentials of increasing public awareness about history of their past.
In museum definition emphasis is shifted to exhibition of materials that links the past and the present. From the definition it is vividly clear that museum exists to serve the public through its exhibition which defines its working or activities.
Exhibition is a means of making museum collection accessible and useful to the public in revealing their past. As a key factor that links the past with the present through its displayed objects, stories are created and understood with its concept. It communicates the past to this present day reality through a well developed aesthetic scenes, considerable writing skills, management, computer technology and interpretation.
The museum motivation for exhibition is to provide information about our objects for necessary learning because there is a saying that “objects are dead when in the store, but come alive when they are in the exhibition gallery”. Exhibitions are self defining and have the mission to provide places for education and reflection about the past.
Exhibition fulfill in part, the museum institutional mission by exposing objects collections to viewing, thus affirming the public trust in museum institution as care taker of social records. It helps to justify the existence of museum and continued support from those whose past is being communicated through the exhibited objects. It promotes community interest by offering leisure activities where individuals or groups may find worthwhile experiences in the study about their past.
As key factor that links the past and the present, exhibition confirms public trust in the museum as a place of conservation and careful preservation. That is why potential donors of objects or collections will continue to be inspired by presenting their objects for public good to know about their past in a thoughtful and informative manner.
The past is linked with the present through exhibitions. The aim of these exhibitions is to change attitude, modify behavior, and increase the availability of knowledge.
Amans is the Assistant Chief Heritage Officer, National Museum Akure, Ondo State