Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Museums are big, but not all of them

September 21, 2010 · No Comments

I’m going to try and clear up my statement. I might or might not succeed. I JUST CAN’T LIVE WITH THE HUMILATION ANYMORE.

London is full of museums, some big and some small (how am I doing so far?). But I don’t just mean the sizes of the buildings; I also mean the scope of the collection. The British Museum, being the largest historical museum, and the National Gallery, being the largest art museum, offer an array of different exhibits that don’t have anything to do with one another. They are a buffet, if you will, of art and history. You can go and look at something in particular, say Ancient Greek and Roman history at the British Museum, or go and browse the whole collection.

And then there are medium museums. The Museum of London, though a large building, hosts artifacts and pieces of only London’s history, not that of the whole world like the British Museum houses. The National Portrait Gallery is an example of a more specific art museum, because it holds only portraits associated with England, unlike the National Gallery, which exhibits all types of paintings from all over the Europe. Museums like the Victoria and Albert Museum fall into this category as well, because it offers a more specific collection. It’s exhibits are more unique, like fashion and jewelry, which makes it less enjoyable to some people, but extremely enjoyable to others. The Tower of London (can I count this as a museum?) boasts the Crown Jewels and a collection of armor and weaponry, but everyone comes for the Jewels. I count this as a medium museum because it doesn’t have a large collection of anything, but the Tower is an exhibit itself.

Now for the small museums. Like the medium museums, there is range here. There is the John Sloan’s Museum, which is so specific as it holds mostly architecture designs and the items from Sloan’s personal collection. But there are smaller museums, like the Charles Dickens Museum that I visited. Obviously, this museum was solely about Dickens and his life, but the museum was limited to sketches of the author, old prints of his books, and a surprisingly little collection of things that Dickens owned and used. It was really disappointing. Small museums offer visitors such a specific topic that its hit or miss. If someone hated Dickens, they would not go to the Dickens Museum, where as if someone hated paintings of the Virgin Mary, they would still go to the National Gallery.

That is my explanation. I hope it I explained myself clearer than in class. Any questions? Comment!

Categories: 2010 David

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