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UpFront: Where past and present meet

UpFront: Where past and present meet

Going on a vacation especially overseas is always a highlight for many. There are many things to see, to explore and to discover. One of the charms of travel, particularly overseas, is to visit museums and art galleries of the city or country travelled to. Museums are without a doubt a storehouse of a certain nation’s history and culture. Through their exhibits they chart the course of the country’s development. Museums often describe a nation’s journey from prehistory to modernity.

The soul of a particular organisation is the essence of identity by which it is defined; it is that which makes a museum a museum. By using resourceful methods of exhibition, interpretation and education the museum becomes a fundamental aspect and valuable resource in society.

Museums can provide memorable, immersive learning experiences, provoke the imagination, introduce unknown worlds and subject matter, and offer the unique setting for quality time with family. They offer a dynamic opportunity to expose visitors to experiences and explore new things in a rich and educational environment.

The Lok Virsa Museum and the Golra Sharif Railway Museumm both located in Islamabad, offer visitors a chance to delve into their curiosities. While walking through these respective museums, it is amazing to feel the impact they have on the viewer, from the remarkable displays at the Lok Virsa to the historical setting of the Golra Sharif Museum. They give the viewer the opportunity to learn in a stimulating environment and can be termed public-learning settings.

Art gives us an experience like nothing else can. It gives us the chance to connect, understand and explore different perceptions, feelings and innovative thoughts. Art museums such as the Museum of Modern Art (Mumok) in Vienna and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (Mamco) in Geneva provide spaces for reflection, experimentation, inspiration, creativity, enjoyment and allow the audience to have an authentic learning experience within the space.

Children and their parents are equally active in learning. These art museums are valuable cultural resources that offer visitors an opulent physical and social environment in which to experience and engage with original works of art.

As a visitor to these museums, one understands the relevance of art in one’s life. For example, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, is an one of a kind experience.

There is a development of appreciation for cultural organisations and such places are used as a resource for lifetime learning in the arts.

Museums stand as both cultural data banks of society. They hold the knowledge of cultural origins and the meaning of societies’ transformations. This is evident in the Taxila Museum in Taxila, which has a wide collection of stone Buddhist sculptures.

Museums turn objects into symbols of a cultural past and the Taxila Museum is no exception; it has a repository of cultural artefacts and remains a rich lode of learning for many who have visited. Indeed the past is always present in museums where restoration of cultural artefacts maintains the illusion that material objects are eternal. Consequently the display of these objects in museums is supposed to represent what history is made of.

Museums engage and educate. They are prime examples of informal learning settings, which mean they are devoted primarily to informal learning — a lifelong process whereby individuals acquire attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience and educative influences and resources in his or her environment.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, July 31st, 2016

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