CAREER NUGGET: Do museums present truths or opinions?

A recent blog by director of museums and public engagement at UCL, questions whether the authorship of museum text should be revealed. So “instead [of ] the ‘voice of the museum’ presented as objective truth”, the author could be identified and the evidence / sources /interpretations made clearer- highlighting this is an opinion (albeit an informed, professional one).  She also questions whether text should also be dated, so visitors can get an insight into context  (this would also highlight when a display has not been updated for many years!).

Is this all a bit post-modern- i.e. there’s no objective truth and opinion is all relative? And does this undermine the professionalism of curators and academics? On the other hand, would highlighting that interpretation of history and art is opinion based, actually encourage more debate and allow visitors to interact with museum collections in a different way?

As a Curator or Museum Manager, how would you balance the need to provide meaning to collections verses encouraging an interactive, rather than passive, visitor experience?


Museums Journal, June 2013 issue, pg 21, ‘Best of the blogs, Let’s listen to the many voices of authority’.