Curator says museum to enter digital age

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The next step for the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda is to follow global trends and enter the digital age, the curator, Michele Henry, said during a recent interview on the Voice of the People.
According Henry, the lack of digitization is one of the main reasons for the decline in revisits from locals.
“In order to get the young people to come back you have to have something that lights up, that they can press to decide whether they want to see that section or that face and so on. It’s the same thing with adults,” Henry stated.
“There are people that say the last time they went to the museum was when they were in school or at Common Entrance [leve] and they are adults now. You have to ask why didn’t they come back,” she added.
In highlighting, some of the plans she has in store for the museum, Henry said, “We have to enter the digital age. What is happening is there is something called ‘running space’ in a museum. This means how much space you can use to tell the story. Now, if there is not enough running space you go to your tablet which can be adjusted and used as part of that exhibition. As you come in you can read the early history and then you log on to the tablet and you will see photographs of what that exhibit is all about,” she said.
The first exhibit they are hoping to change is the African Antiguan folk pottery also known as Sea View Farm Pottery. Henry explained that they hope to show the evolution from the beginning stages, when our forefathers first arrived and made pots with crude indentations to the improved, refined products that are available today.
In an effort to encourage adults to revisit the museum, Henry said “I can guarantee you, even now before we have changed the exhibits, if you step back into the museum, go up to any panel and just read what is there and look at the pictures next to it, you will look at it with different eyes, more mature eyes, with your imagination and you will begin to think.”
She further stated that the staff has been doing a lot of research in order for each object in the museum to tell a story. “Let’s just tell people about objects in the museum instead of always trying to create new exhibits. Let us think about resurfacing, re-sharing and reposting our content,” she stressed.
When asked about how the museum obtains funding, the curator explained that the museum is run by the Historical Society, a non-profit organisation. “The Board and myself are the ones that go out and write letters asking for donations and so we continuously have to raise our own funds for the museum to survive 365 days a year.”
It also generates income through its gift shop which sells local goods and gets funding for its publications.
It also has a comprehensive heritage education programme which is open to all schools. There is an education tour guide who guides the schools and children of various ages around the museum and interacts with them.
Henry concluded the interview by requesting that people “take a step back in the museum” once it is completed – at that time “there will be human interest stories especially with the Antigua Sugar Factory; the heart of where trade unionism started” she said.
The curator also appealed to residents to support the museum by becoming a member which is only $50 a year. Admission into the Museum is free for residents of Antigua and Barbuda.

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