Museums; why museums?

The word “museum” comes from the Ancient Greek “Muses” of the arts. In the thousands of the museums all over the world, one can admire art, creation, human expression and spirit, but not only those. Natural history museums host nature’s art, urban structure museums host the art of randomness becoming order and so on. Is art though the reason why humans create and visit museums?

The museum of
Monterey hosting
Salvador Dali
The Monterey
The Life of
Salvador Dali
In pictures
Museum of Monterey

In August 2018 my wife, our two children and I made a long trip, planned from years before. Years ago we decided to give the US West Coast a go and drive the renowned Highway 1 northbound. As a family we travel a lot, all the four together, each one by ourselves, two by two and in every possible combination and opportunity. Museums have always been top on our agenda and we have had the chance to visit some of the most important museums in the world. This time, though, my focus, especially for the children, was rather more… capitalistic…

Girls in SFMoMA
and boys on
Museum in
Castro, SF, CA
The Mission, SF, CA

Of course we wouldn’t miss out on SFMoMA or the GLBT History Museum of San Francisco, we even went to the Mission, Alcatraz, the Museum of Monterey, the Monterey Aquarium, SPARC in LA, and so on… Still the focus of our visit stayed with a few, rather unconventional “museums” and monuments… Apple, Levi’s, Google, Universal Studios, Staple Center, Kodak Theater, Chinese Theater in Hollywood…

The Apple Exhibition Center and Store
In Cupertino CA
The Universal
The LEVI’S Center in SF
Hard Rock Cafe

Needless to say that though my teenagers’ interest and attention was unexpectedly vivid for their age in all beautiful conventional museums and monuments we visited, as also expected they were literally beside themselves in the rather “unconventional” ones. And luckily my aim was successfully met, when Savvas, my 12-year-old boy noticed that to enter all those private brands’ museums and collections we had to pay an entrance fee, to say the least… He wondered “well, these are private companies which sell their goods, isn’t it rather too much, if not arrogant, to sell the entrance to see their… history and culture?”

TOMS – Flagship Store
Venice, LA
SPARC, Venice, LA
Staple Center
Panic at the Disco
The Concert

This opened a fruitful dialogue between him and his 14-year-old sister who also successfully noticed and made the remark “it’s not arrogant; it’s a technique to give value to their identity and goods”!!! Oh yes, this dialogue took place between a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old. My son asked for her to explain and she went on: “America hasn’t got the history that for example Greece or Italy have to sell. Cleverly so, they create history out of their own achievements. And their biggest achievement is business, economy, capitalism. By asking you to pay to see, subconsciously you think it must be important and valuable. That’s why you give it the value it has!” And Savvas added that it’s also fun, because they make people feel nice. They want to know what all these brands are like from the inside, so that they feel they belong with each one of them…

Alcatraz: The cell of escape

And there I added that maybe this is the reason why people make museums anyway… First to enjoy a sense of belonging with their roots, and second to give value to their existence through that belonging…