As museums continue to struggle financially, some facilities are faced with the possibility of closure, and that reality gets us thinking about the value of museums and why it’s important to support them. Officials at the North Creek Depot Museum, for example, say they could not stay open without the financial support of the town of Johnsburg. The town’s annual subsidy of the museum was recently questioned, and hearts sank among the museum’s managers when faced with the thought of a reduction or elimination of town taxpayer money for operations.
Why even have a museum? Although museums attract tourists and therefore help the local economy, that’s not really why they’re important.
Museums define us. They create a sense of place by interpreting our history. Furthermore, they tell us where we’ve come from and, because most things in life come in cycles, they tell us where we’re going.
Through artifacts, museums tell our story. That connection between the past and the present is educational, yes, but it’s also something we need as human beings. We are social creatures, but we don’t sit around campfires any more handing down stories from generation to generation as our early ancestors did. For the most part, history is no longer communicated through the oral tradition; it is a function of society handled by museums.
For this reason, we’d like to see all museums in the Adirondack region sign up with the Smithsonian as a partner and offer free admission to their museums during the 2013 Museum Day Live!
Although museums will see their proceeds from admission fees fall on Saturday, one day couldn’t possibly hurt their bottom line. It may indeed help, as people spend more money in the gift shops and food counters.
And it’s a great promotional tool. As the Adirondack Museum and the Lake Placid Olympic Museum will undoubtedly find out this year, Museum Day Live! is a great opportunity to get some free publicity.