Small Museums – Large Impact

 

le Louvre - flickr photo by re-ality

“Sometimes a museum can be a destination in and of itself,” as quoted by www.virgin-vacations.com/16-top-museums-of-the-world.  I agree. Personally, I can think of several museums that are the primary reason I would visit an area; the Louvre in Paris comes to mind, or the Museum of Metropolitan Art in New York City, and certainly the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. 

Winged Victory, le Louvre - flickr photo by RC_Fotos

Musee du Louvre is number one on Virgin-vacation.com’s list.  I have had the privilege of visiting the Louvre, and I cannot even begin to describe the thrill I experienced at viewing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, and seeing the second century (BC) marble sculpture of the Greek Goddess Nike (also known as the Winged Victory of Samothrace). 

What is more impressive is that seven of the 16 museums noted on this list are located in the United States, so these are certainly accessible to most of us. 

What about small museums though? 

They are often the unsung hero’s of antiquities.  A volunteer at the Floyd County (Texas) Historical Museum said this of their small venue; “It’s not your Smithsonian environment, but we feel we’re managing to care for all of the items as well as a county museum can.”  It is evident that they treasure memorabilia and historical treasures from the past and wish to preserve these items for future generations.  Attracting visitors and keeping the doors open can be a challenge for many small museums, such as the two listed here. 

Now that school is back in session, many teachers will plan field trips as part of their educational programs.  With so many budget cuts it would seem a change of venue is in order.  Visiting a small museum in your community isn’t as costly, and there is a wealth of information right in one’s own back yard.

Located on Santa Fe Street - Denver, Colorado

I recently visited Denver, Colorado, and toured the Museo de Las Americas, whose mission is to educate about the diversity of Latino Americano art and culture, “from ancient to contemporary through innovative exhibitions and programs.”  This small museum, located in the art district on Santa Fe Street, is nestled among art galleries in an area that is being revitalized.

Po' Pay is sculpted with Tennessee marble by artist Cliff Fragua, Jemez Pueblo, USA

There is an ethereal feeling as you walk about the polished wooden floors in this small, but well laid out museum.  The “Liberadores” exhibition was taking place where each room held one or two exhibit displays at most. 

The one exhibit I found the most intriguing was by Ana Maria Hernandez, who collected sandals of all sizes from the residents of two small Latin American communities.  The sandals (worn from use) were placed in an organized ‘random’ fashion.  As you look at the placement it gives the impression of a road leading, as a definitive path, to a great story.  A video is playing on the wall above the shoes with a narrative about the communities and the people where the shoes came from.  It reveals much about their every day lives and their contribution to the arts with the simple, but profound, gesture of giving away their used sandals.  While appearances may lead one to believe the donors may have become shoeless, that was not the case.  New sandals were exchanged for the used ones.

Liberadores depicts freedom in many forms: Freedom from control; from incarceration; from barricades; from economic struggle; from cultural phenomena; from illiteracy; from religious persecution and certainly freedom to express oneself.  In the photo below, the chain might have many meanings.  No doubt the artist was depicting liberation through a visual means.  The chain installation is a creation of Artist Liliana Folta, who is, orginally, from Argentina, and now resides in the U.S.

Liliana Folta, the artist who created the chain installation, stated it was "made of ceramic, fabric, wood, metal, mirror and ink."

These exhibits were a quiet reflection; a thought-provoking window into the struggle human beings often face.  While they may not go down into history as the greatest works of art ever, they will surely impact all who had the privilege of exploring their artful meaning. 

Even young school children will gain a measure of humanity through the arts at the Museo de Las Americas.  To learn more about the Museo, please visit www.museodelasamericas.org  and to learn more about www.floydcountymuseum.com click here.

Here is also a resource to find out more about small museums: http://www.aam-us.org/sp/small.cfm.  Search under the tab, “About Museums” to find a list.  

Perhaps you know of a small museum in your community.  Why not share it with the world.  Respond to this blog and we will do our best to feature it in one of our future blogs.

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One thought on “Small Museums – Large Impact

  1. Wonderful story again Louise. I’ve been to the Met, the Louvre 3 times and the Smithsonian 3 times and I like you can tell you it is the small museums that are like great American restaurants hidden along the highway and small cities, delightful, informative and in some cases sensational. My wife and I this spring visited a couple of local gems in Alaska. We make it a point now to always ask for the local museums when spending more than a couple of hours in a town, city or village. Thank you for this reminder of a great piece of Americana we are not to forget.
    Thank you as always for a great job Peter

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