Mason: How we should truly judge the value of museums | VailDaily.com

Mason: How we should truly judge the value of museums

Jennifer Mason
Valley Voices

Editor’s note: “Museums Matter” is a series of three articles, compiled by Jennifer Mason, the executive director of the Colorado Snowsports Museum, focusing on the importance of museums today. For additional information on the museum, visit http://www.snowsportsmuseum.org.

Museums are magical places. They are treasure troves of unique and interesting things that make us think and see the world and our place within it differently. Museums have the power to make us stop, wonder and be curious, to challenge our views, and prompt us to ask new questions.  They are also filled with dedicated people who are smart and excited by their work and the many stories and possibilities that their museum holds and shares.

In every museum, there is a little bit of you, whether it’s the recognition that history does indeed mean something to you or perhaps discovering that one particular artifact that truly speaks to you. Museums house living, active records of us. Exhibitions allow us to see ourselves in another and promote curiosity and tolerance of the difference.

The ability to bring people face-to-face with artifacts is a unique means of connecting with people across time. While their stories may have been vastly different from ours, they too had hopes, dreams and achievements in their lives.

Take for example the Colorado Snowsports Museum’s new “Skiing Through Time” exhibit. The display chronicles the birth and growth of the sport of skiing throughout the state, illustrated with artifacts from the 1800s through today.

The unique ski, boot and binding evolution exhibit truly helps accentuate the family nature of the sport, along with providing a visual historical timeline. Parents are able to share and show their children the equipment they learned to ski on or perhaps their favorite pair of skis, evoking fond family memories of days spent cruising down a mountain or a weekend outing ritual that is continuing to be passed down to future generations today.

There are countless reasons that museums matter. Many of these reasons are dependent on the individual museum and the individual visiting the museum. We should judge the value of museums not based on the number of people that visit them, but rather on how visitors view their experience when they leave the museum.

While museum professionals might be the most critical judges of their own institutions; ultimately, the visitors are the most important evaluators of museums. Their experience determines if museums matter.

We hope you will agree that museums do indeed matter. They are both necessary and as relevant today as they ever were. We invite you to visit the Colorado Snowsports Museum and come face to face with the history of Colorado’s ski and snowboard industry.

And, we encourage you to continue to visit, continue to remain curious and allow yourself to wonder. For only by valuing and preserving the historical remnants of where we have come from, will we know where we are going.

If you want to join us on this journey, please consider becoming a member of the Colorado Snowsports Museum or possibly look into making a tribute gift or attending one or more of our programs. We rely on the generosity of individual and corporate support in order to keep the museum free of charge and accessible to all. Please visit http://www.snowsportsmuseum.org for information on becoming a member of the Museum