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The Value of a Museum

Museums in the 21st century are abundant. Any member of the public can walk through a UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico, or the Museum of Miniature Books in Baku, Azerbaijan on any given day. The idea of the modern museum is accredited to 14th-century Europe, but the concept of historical and artistic preservation has been around much longer. How have these profit-free institutions prevailed for so long? The key to their survival may just be within their educational, communal, and economic nature.

One thing that makes museums of any kind so special is their ability to immerse the patron in a particular subject. Art, History, and Science are all topics that can be emphasized through a museum visit. Northwest Arkansas specifically has an interesting market for museums, with 16 notable museums calling this region home. The most known example of this is the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Crystal Bridges is a free-entry museum that not only displays art, but also provides history surrounding exhibits, artists, and general periods of the art that they display. Another notable trait of this museum, and many others, is its openness to hosting school groups. Giving children the opportunity to be exposed to new cultures and topics is an educational experience that every child deserves.

Not only do museums provide educational experiences, but they also provide a community setting that is not as common in recent years. Museums bring communities together by providing “Third Spaces” which is a place to occupy that is not one's place of work or home. As these “Third Spaces” are lost, it’s important to protect those that are still holding strong and museums are often institutions that encourage connection-building amongst visiting patrons and those who live locally as well. Circling back to my local museum of Crystal Bridges, the sense of community that arises within our town has increased because of its arrival. Many of us find a strong sense of pride and connection to Crystal Bridges, especially when discussing it with those unfamiliar with it, and find it as a way to bond with those who have. A bridge between a museum's educational quality and its communal element is the fact that they provide an opportunity to learn about one's community. These large establishments often provide space to discuss new topics that help bring a variety of people together.

Any attraction draws in patrons and provides some amount of tourism, but not many give back to their communities to the extent that museums do.  Museums that have a large draw not only provide jobs within themselves but also their region. They stimulate industries like retail, transportation, and hospitality. A unique aspect of museum finance is their use of philanthropy. philanthropic donations don't just contribute to the addition of museum material but also play into the sustainability of their business model.

So, In a world where constant change is the norm, museums stand as timeless guardians of our collective heritage and knowledge. From the intricate Miniature Books in Baku to the mysteries of Roswell's UFO Museum, these institutions not only preserve the past but shape our future. As we navigate the 21st century, the educational, communal, and economic contributions of museums become increasingly vital. The next time you step into a museum, remember that you're not merely a visitor, but a participant in a tapestry of art, history, and science. 


Presley Russell


12th grade

Instagram: presleyruss

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