It is important that we know the history of our people and nation; many know this and do as much as they can to contribute in helping preserve history. But if you live in a small community, a small town, or even a village, it is still important to acknowledge and preserve the history of your local area. The smallest almost insignificant things and places can become something great, just like how one of British empire’s colonies became a great country today. Knowing how the little things start out will help future historians piece out their history… our story.
I’ve been to towns with small museums that showed history that dates back only a few decades ago, but it showed how much they cared for their community and how important it is for them to share a history that makes them truly connected, truly one with each other as a community. From something as small as a senator once stopping by at their dinners for a cup of coffee, before he was even in office, to the significant hidden history of the origin of a great political or industrial leader, the reason for collecting these memories and making a museum is to allow the growth of our identity not just as Americans but as the citizen of the state, county, and city/town.
It is important to take pride in your community, as it is one of the major influences of your growth as a person. People have been looking at the negative side of stereotypes, but if positive it gives a sense of pride for the place you hail from. Like how people from Minnesota are all thought to be nice and mild-mannered, though it is impossible that there is no rude person from there it shows how dominant is the personality mild-mannered people are there. It is their history that determines the overall identity of a community. Instead of allowing hearsay to determine the identity of the community, allow a museum to show the accurate history of your people.
Of course education is the most important reason why a community museum is a worthwhile project. It is obvious enough that a majority of the youth is interested in local history; in fact they probably don’t like history as a whole. But we cannot allow this to take away their choice to one day have a place to look when they want or need to. Especially since the internet often don’t have much data on local history of small towns.
The best way to start one is by making the museum at the local public library, that way it can easily be accessed by people looking for local history. I think the pairing is a perfect one, both on how the two are related and how cost effective it would be. Most libraries need to have more engaging ways to attract people to reading, and museums are great but when it’s time to look at the history in-depth, books can are excellent.
A place where people can learn more about their community and in a way their selves, is always a worthwhile endeavor.
Last month I had the pleasure of being invited to the party of a wealthy friend of a friend, I was his plus one. The party was casual, yet since I knew it would be filled with guests from a tax bracket I hope to one day reach, I needed to dress up a bit. I was right in doing so, as the host was apparently the owned a yacht rental company and all the guests were a bit more polished then the people I usually associate with. I’m not exactly the type who social climb, but it was actually quite fun to mingle with those whose jewelry probably cost more than my car.
But what interested me the most was when the host decided to invite a few of us inside his private quarters in the yacht. The place was extremely roomy, I mean I had been on several yachts before, but this one was by far the biggest one I have ever been on. And inside were artifacts from the Byzantine Empire, and a few old books from the renaissance, along with a few more items of historical significant.
Why the Exhibits
The host was actually a history buff and loved to collect items of historical significant, there we finally found a common ground, as my love for history and museums was something we shared. We ended up talking about each pieces, and interesting events from that era. He had told me how he procured such items, which was mostly legal and some a bit more questionable, but then again some artifacts we have in museums now went through questionable channels if you go back far enough.
His love for the byzantine and roman empires’ history went beyond just someone who had an interest in history and art. He hoped that one day he would be able to procure a few artifacts that, to my knowledge, is definitely not for sale, to a level of it being concerning too. But then again a lot of the rich has that quality of thinking they can acquire anything given enough time and effort, which is why they are rich in the first place.
He had on display a klivanion which I am certain to be a reproduction, but it was made rather well, along with the aging and such it almost looked like the real thing, which is very improbable.
Another piece I was pretty intrigued about was the coin collection, a few were from the time of Justinian II, I had wanted to take a closer look but unfortunately the host did not have the key at that time. He did offer to loan it to me if I wished to study it further, but I hated the idea of losing a rare golden coin that didn’t belong to me.
The renaissance books were intriguing but again they were in a glass box and I couldn’t really see what they were, and I only had the word of the host to say that it is authentic. Again he offered to loan one of them to me at a later time, but I politely turned it down.
Because of the coin with the image of Justinian II, we ended up talking about his whole rule, and how he and his friend and general almost conquered Italy and rebuild the glory of Rome again. The interesting history of the plague and how the towers of the walls of Constantinople were used to store dead bodies with, and even the crazy “true history” that depicted the king and queen as actual demons controlling the empire.
The host was very knowledgeable and we hit it off, we actually became good friend since then and often meet to chat about roman and byzantine history. Last week he even brought one of the coins from his collection to give to me as a token of friendship, the Justinian coin, and of course I accepted, now I have a coin that is probably worth more than my mortgage in my bank’s safety deposit box. I can certainly never sell it, so I guess now I have a family heirloom.
All in all
Going to that party is something that I will never regret, as the people I met, the things I saw, and the friends I made are something I could have never experienced had I not gone.
It was at a museum I first learned about the wonders of history, in a small city run museum in my home town, was the very first place I experienced my first museum visit. It was nothing fancy, mostly local history and lore, but there were a lot of artifacts from the natives that lived on the land before the people we called our ancestors settled on the land. Was everything interesting? No, but the few stories and artifacts that were amazing, secrets that if people of back then new would change the very course of history. The privilege of knowing things only people of official status knew back then gave you a sense of pride. This started my love for museums and my sought for knowledge, and so whenever I come across a museum wherever I was, I would go in and learn about the history of the land I stand on.
History connects us all, it allows us to see that humanity originated from practically one point and slowly branched on and on. Our differences only developed after time away from each other, knowing how our culture formed will allow us to see that as we slowly go back a few generations most different cultures originated from a single one, much like how a lot of European languages now are just practically evolved forms of Latin. You can easily read these online or from a book, but museums will allow you to experience it in a way, seeing the artifacts yourself, and sometimes (depending on the museum) you can even touch and examine the artifacts yourself.
Seeing the bones of dinosaurs in a book or video does not allow you the feeling of how grand these creatures was, compared to seeing one in person media often fails (I have yet to try Virtual Reality for this though, maybe it will do a better job). The whole point of going to the museum is to be at the same place as an artifact and learning from it, there is a feeling more grand to learn this compared to a classroom.
It was at a war exhibit that I truly felt how terrible war is, when I learned about the world wars in the classroom I either felt bored or thought how cool it was, when I saw the photos of people and the uniform and belongings of people who lost their lives because of war, I felt a sense of sadness for these people, somehow I felt how much they suffered. Sure you might be able to feel this by watching a movie about the wars, but often times you get distracted by the exaggerations of action, and feeling for your favorite actor, to the point that you forget about the war itself. I have no problem with movies, and they often help people start learning about history, but visiting a museum and seeing things truly related to the wars is a powerful way to not only learn but feel about the things that transpired.
I love museums… it connects us to the past, which in turn connects us to each other.