Gary, a Comox Air Force Museum volunteer, is also the author of many of our website posts. I invited him to share his point of view about the value of museums…
“I think museums of all subjects are a critical source of knowledge for our young. We all have different ways of learning: some can learn by reading a text book, others today, with the use of video, can watch what they need to learn. The great thing about a museum is that you can learn in all the ways possible. Add to that the fact you not only see a picture or a video but also you can actually sometimes see and touch artefacts.
My best friend and I went to visit York Minster in Yorkshire. We went down into the basement where they had uncovered the original Roman walls of the city. I’ll never forget the look on his face as he touched the rock and realized that the people who built that wall did so 2000 years earlier. This awe and excitement could not have been gained with a book. I began to wonder how those emotions could have possibly shaped the young mind of a school aged person.
How do you assess the value of a museum? I don’t think you can assess the value of a museum by the amount cash taken in at the front door. I am lucky enough to be a volunteer at the Comox Air Force Museum and I get to see the looks on the faces of both young and old as they come out of the gallery. I have seen many faces return because their initial visit was so great. I think many young students have had their dreams and plans shaped by a visit to a museum. For the older of us in the crowd, a museum can make us drop our jaws in astonishment or shed a tear or the complete opposite, laugh so hard our sides ache!!
Our view of history can be altered when viewing artifacts as separate items, but when you put these artefacts in one building and construct the true historical picture, it’s almost like turning a flashlight on in a dark room to see the overall scene.
As for myself, a visit to a museum is a chance to awaken my senses, it’s a chance to laugh or cry, to yearn for a time past, or to look forward with anticipation to the future highlighted in the displays of a science museum.
I’m hoping to visit the museum at Juno beach and also the RAF museums at York, Duxford and Hendon on my next visit to England. All of these museums I’ve visited before, but like life and the history it encompasses, our museums are living changing things. I also use the term “our museums” as I believe that they are our museums; we all contribute to the history that will one day be included in one of these incredible collections. Please take the time to go and visit one of your local museums; you won’t regret a single minute!!”