Friday, February 8, 2013

Tea at Eldon

On January 21, Eldon House held a Community Round Table in which patrons could offer suggestions to staff on how to make the house museum even better. The minders of London's oldest home were looking for advice on how to present their artifacts and grounds to make Eldon House an even more meaningful experience than it already is. They were also quite happy to receive suggestions for future fundraising endeavours. All this ties in with the recent "divorce" from Museum London, since, as of January 1, Eldon House is under its own governance with complete control of its collections. The Round Table was well-attended by visitors who jotted down lots of ideas and handed them to staff. Then we had cookies and tea.

It reminds me of another forum I heard about, called "Envison: Help define a new mission for Museum London" held on April 2, 2011. The coordinators of the Museum London workshop  asked participants such questions as, "Who should be served?" and "What should be the primary goal?" I didn't make it to the M.L. event but I'm assured that their staff received several clear suggestions from members of the heritage community as to goals. Like more of London's material culture needs to be on display. And the city really needs an historical museum separate from the art gallery.

I wonder what Museum London did with those suggestions? My guess is they filed them away with their historical artifacts in the basement holding cell. Many of us interested in London's history could still make quite a few suggestions to the "Museum," like:

  • Create a permanent historical display on the founding and growth of London, not just occasional exhibits on specific themes.
  • Allow some of the stored artifacts to actually see the light of day.
  • Encourage more history-related programming.
  • In view of recent events, find a way to keep volunteers happy so they'll stay.
But it seems the real goal of Museum London was to make it look like they wanted community input. They'll continue to be an art gallery calling themselves a museum, while a real museum down the street, Eldon House, provides interesting history related programming for its patrons.  

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