Mason: Here’s why museums matter more than ever in the digital age (column) | VailDaily.com

Mason: Here’s why museums matter more than ever in the digital age (column)

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.

What is the first image that pops into your head when you think of a museum? Is it a dusty outdated collection of antiques that make your parents reminisce about the “good ol’ days?”

And for that matter, when was the last time you set foot inside a museum? Are you one of those people that when visiting a new locale tends to seek out the area’s museum or is local history an afterthought option of things to experience?

No matter what your answer is to those questions, we’re here to tell you that museums do indeed matter. Thomas P. Campbell, the new director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, offered that “Museums provide places of relaxation and inspiration. And most importantly, they are a place of authenticity. We live in a world of reproductions — the objects in museums are real. It’s a way to get away from the overload of digital technology.”

Seeing something in person is quite different than seeing something on the pages of a book or on a computer screen. In fact, research has shown that individuals who have firsthand experience are more likely to retain it later in life.

Take for instance the 1924 Olympics coat of Anders Haugen on display in the Colorado Snowsports Museum. Aside from the fact that the coat represents an artifact from the very first Olympic Winter Games, it also serves as an introduction to the unlikely story of the Norwegian-born Haugen, who became America’s first Winter Olympic medalist 50 years after the 1924 Games as a result of a scoring error.

Had it not been for the Colorado Snowsports Museum, this coat may well have never seen the light of day, possibly stored away in a box in someone’s attic. Now it is prominently displayed in the museum for all to see, serving not only as a 94-year old artifact but also an introduction to the story of Anders Haugen.

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

We encourage you to continue to visit, to 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.