Museums (em)Power: A Personal Monologue

What are your feelings when entering in a museum? Are you the one who has the power, or is it the museum who is directly influencing on your behaviour? Maybe you consider that the power balance among you and the institution is equitable. What do you think?
Let me please ask you just one more thing - well maybe it is not the last one, but lets continue with our conversation...why are you considering all these questions? Is it because you are giving the museum a special place within society? Accordingly, why do you think you are giving such treatment to this institution? I guess that it is because they have existed for such a long time, right? They are just part of our society, our cities, in general. They are part of our life, don’t you think?
No! Sorry! I did it again…I kept saying to myself that I won't ask you more questions, but I do actually want to know what are your thoughts.
Wait! Do you feel that museums are establishing this continued one on one conversation? Do they actually want to know what we think? In my opinion, honestly, I do not know. But, maybe, yes, right? Why not? They are public and open for everybody, so I guess they do care about what society wants, right? Although, I am not sure if they are actually engaging with us? Such difficult questions I have just asked you. I think they are not welcoming for everybody, do not you think? However, someone told me that now they are using some electronic devices and trails to make the experience unforgettable. I guess I will try to go; I do not lose anything. But, to be honest, if it is true, if they are using that many devices to make themselves more enjoyable, at the end they will just become another kind of theme park. Would you like that to happen? It could be a good idea do not you think? Although I do not know if my mother would like that, she is more into the art you know? Not that contemporary one, I mean the good one, like Picasso. Do you like exhibitions? Or do you prefer to go to the events? Because in my opinion, in those events, they just want to politically influence us, but, in reality, they do not have such power. If people do not go, they will lose their power. Do not you agree?
Let me ask you one final question: What are your feelings when entering a museum?
In reflecting on museums, I realize that museums raise questions, and much of these questions revolve around power. Please join us at the Museums (em)Power Conference this September to question whether or not museums (em)power.

This entry was written by Blanca Jove Alcalde, a PhD student at the University of Leicester's School of Museum Studies, researching how non-collecting institutions use discursive programming in order to sustain an active and critically engaged public sphere.


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