national museum

Museums are odd spaces if you stop to think about it. Objects enclosed in glass boxes, protected from the touch, sound and breath of the visitors around. We can see them, carefully presented in a dimmed artificial light, but these objects are now cut off from human life – often the very thing that brought them into being in the beginning.

The continued existential question of our kind – who are we? why are we here? – is why such spaces exist. Why objects are presented, stripped bare from their original maker and allowed to coalesce with our own consciousness. Campaigns such as Fashion Revolution hint that this is a cultural model – removal of the very hands that created something to sell us an idea of who we are. An idea we piece together from the fragments we’ve absorbed before. Is authorship even valuable, when we feverishly impose our own meaning onto something anyway?

Stripped bare of context, the objects in glass boxes become an exercise in aesthetics. A mummified cat, sacred from what I know of Ancient Egypt, becomes reduced to a reminder of basketweave patterns. I might muse about the time/skill that went in or the beliefs of the people who made it, but as a product of this civilisation, museums can become nothing more than “inspiration”. A search for an idea to merge with my collected consciousness and trigger the creation of something that I can embed with meaning. Potential is everywhere and excess seems inevitable.

Museums are odd spaces, but I suppose I enjoy them anyway. I like the sense of stillness and the concrete answers they (try to) present, as a refuge from my own questioning mind. They are places where history is fixed, in everything but the stories we go on to tell.

national history museum
national history museum

Ancient Egypt & Ancient Greece
At the British Museum, London