MuseumMinute

CNN Travel Stirs the Thousand-Year-Old “Boring” Clay Pot

Museum Blogger Mar Dixon was the first person on Twitter to introduce me to James Durston’s opinion piece, “Why I hate museums,” on CNN Travel. I read it once. Then I read it again.

My immediate reaction was, “WT…” Fill in the blank (there are several letters that would fit the bill). I then forwarded the article to a few of my colleagues. I wasn’t mad. Or even shocked. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and there will always be people out there who feel museums “aren’t for them” or simply “aren’t their thing.” And you know what? That’s fine. There are lots of popular things in world that I don’t like… “America’s Got Talent”, James Patterson novels, most board games… Lots of things.

It turns out that Mr. Durston is not just a writer for CNN Travel, he is also a senior producer (seriously?); therefore it’s difficult for me to take his opinion piece seriously. Reading the piece at face value leads me to believe that Mr. Durston hates puppies and sunshine, too. He comes across as a curmudgeon who can’t see the value in the everyday – even when that “everyday” is rare, one-of-a-kind, or thousands of years old.

I simply don’t believe this to be true. I’m not convinced he hates museums as much as he says, and, seriously, is it even possible to hate puppies that much? I suspect he likes puppies… Perhaps, his bosses at CNN told him to increase page hits on the website or they would start sacrificing puppies. That seems much more reasonable explanation.

But, let’s take his dislike of museums at face value. What exactly does it mean?

Generally speaking, we don’t like and/or appreciate what we don’t understand. Museums aren’t perfect – and personally, I’m interested for Mr. Durston to list the museums he is so disappointed in. Some museums are “doing it wrong.” What does that mean? It can mean many things. And those “many things” are being discussed in the comments. What Mr. Durston is doing here, is stirring the pot. Getting people talking, at the expense of museums (as a whole) and museum professionals (and enthusiasts) are feeling the sting.

So in response to Mr. Durston. I would like to say, why I love museums (and would encourage you to do the same in the comments below).

  • I love museums because they introduced me to the fascinating world of dinosaurs (the gateway drug for natural history, science, geology, and archaeology).
  • I love museums because they protect, preserve, conserve, and provide a space to showcase items that I would have never had the opportunity to see otherwise. I will never forget seeing the Titian exhibition at the MFAH. It was beautiful. Breathtaking. I get goosebumps thinking about it (and I’m not an art history expert).
  • I love museums because I feel welcomed at them. Have I ever been shushed by a guard? Of course. Have I ever chewed gum in a gallery? Maybe, maybe not (okay, I have). But the feeling of getting lost in a space full of history, wonder, and beauty is peaceful for me. Sometimes I walk into a museum and look for a particular gallery, other times I take my time and explore. Whether it’s five minutes or five hours; I embrace what’s around me. Maybe it’s my imagination. Maybe it’s my professional training.

Whatever it is, I am truly sorry to hear that Mr. Durston has never experienced that feeling (if that even is his real name!).

Author’s note: No puppies were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

7 thoughts on “CNN Travel Stirs the Thousand-Year-Old “Boring” Clay Pot

  1. Hey! How’d Ken Ham get a hold of my laptop! I apologize. I really need to keep a tighter leash on my technology. (I mean, just look at the typos. Obviously I didn’t type that!)

    (Ken Ham was not harmed in the making of these comments, although one hopes that his reputation was at least just a little bit.)

  2. I love Museums, accessing collections and exhibitions feels like you have your very own time machine, allowing you to delve into the past. What will you discover on your next visit?

  3. I love looking at objects (art, historical, archeological, etc) and thinking about when it was made. Who made it? What was their life like? Is there a story behind it? It makes me feel connected. LOVE museums!!

  4. Pingback: Discussion, Debate and Exchange – Where is it Happening for Museum Ed? | Edgital

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