Small-town museums, focused on local artwork and history combat a problem: What to do when the community has seen and learned what the museum has to display and teach and the institution does not attract enough tourists to maintain business? There is no easy answer to this question as each museum and community has its own needs and objectives. This essay will focus on the
at Mediterranean House, a small operation with significant history, which showcases the work of Mildred Nix Huie en permanence, therefore limiting the ability of rotating exhibition. An exploration of this museum's collection will pose some answers to this question and suggest future plans to reinvigorate the local public's interest in the works on display. Mildred Huie Plantation Museum
The presented solutions to this pressing issue entail breathing new life into a long-existing exhibit by bringing new items with which to relate to the current displayed objects. Firstly, a museum in this position can make connections for visitors by exhibiting artwork or objects which raise questions that visitors would not have propounded themselves. If the existing exhibit features works from a particular art movement, introduce works which were created during the same era from a different movement and explain how the two displays contrast to or parallel one another. In the example of the
A second way to encourage new perspectives on long-term exhibits is by connecting visitors to their locality by showcasing other art forms of the region and exploring how the two displays correlate or dissociate. Because the
The scenarios laid out above suggest ways in which a museum with permanent collections can generate excitement of its lasting exhibits. These solutions focus on the additions of rotating exhibits, but there are also ways to invite and welcome the community's own ideas into the institution. For example, plan lectures in which the community can hear information directly from an individual educated on the exhibited topic in a setting welcoming of their questions and concerns.
Ask the community for their opinions on what they would like to know more about and would like to see exhibited in the museum. Both of these ideas aid in breaking down barriers between museum institutions and the general public. This effectively allows the two to work together in a symbiotic relationship and ultimately keep one another informed and perpetually inquisitive. A relationship such as this will permit the museum's objective to remain in the forefront of the community's mind and prevent the forgetting of history.
** As curator of the
, the director and I work diligently to operate the museum to the best of its functionality and purpose. Some of the propositions outlined above are foreseeable future endeavors while others may never be realized. However, many projects are in the works which bring us closer to our community and help us to maintain the relationships necessary to preserve our corner of history. For example, I am preparing to present a lecture discussing the topic of the blog entry from Mildred Huie Museum April 1, 2011. This lecture would provide the opportunity for the audience to connect the techniques used by Huie to different art movements, thus generating interest in our permanent collection.