"Pleasures of Dicovery"
Exploring a museum should also include an element
of play. We should feel the same excitement as when
starting out on a journey where every object and testimony
bring to light phenomena that are new and unknown.
This is how Jacques Perot, the President of ICOM,
has greeted the theme for the next International Museum
Day. On 18th May 1999 museums throughout the world
will be celebrating the Pleasures of Discovery, the
enjoyment for all museums visitors that goes hand
in hand with acquiring knowledge. The museum as a
learning tool calls upon our sensitivity and our feelings,
and enables us to understand the world in which we
live as we set out to discover ourselves, our technical,
scientific and natural environment and that of the
living beings around us, as well as the discovery
of the other in terms of time and space.
George H. Hein
Professor Emeritus, Senior Research Associate,
Program Evaluation & Research Group, Lesley College,
Cambridge MA, United States.
Former Chairperson of ICOM's International Committee
for Education and Cultural Action.
Board member of ICOM's American National Committee.
applaud ICOM's decision to assign the theme Pleasures
of Discovery to the 1999 International Museum Day,
and to highlight the idea of enjoyment associated
with museum visits. Recent emphasis on the educational
role of museums has sometimes obscured the extent
to which museums should provide pleasure for all ages
and awaken all our senses, as ICOM's press release
I hope, however, that no one will misunderstand the
statement and conclude that we need to make a choice
between pleasure and education. Acquiring knowledge
and leisure and entertainment have been artificially
separated for too long, and today, an essential aspect
of modern educational theory is that these two activities
are closely linked. While children learn through natural
play activities, we have come to recognise that adults,
too, in combining entertainment with education can
be ensured to provide enjoyable educational experiences.
Visitor studies indicate that museum visitors, like
theatre goers, come for entertainment and education
and do not necessarily separate the two.
That combination of motives, and the opportunities
museums provide to satisfy them simultaneously, powerfully
associate museums with other cultural activities,
such as attending theatre performances. And for as
long as humans have reflected on their development,
drama has been recognised as a form of entertainment
providing both pleasure and education. Similarly,
museum visits allow us to discover ourselves by awakening
all our senses. That is education.
published in: "ICOM News", Volume 52 - 1999