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develops, all your leading citizens will be given opportunities to play parts in the enterprise far better worth the taking, in view of their own powers and circumstances, than is the presidency of an infant experiment.
The director is, or should be, the moving spirit of the institu. tion. He should be given such powers as are held by the general manager of every successful business enterprise. Collectors and experts and ultra-enthusiastic hobby-riders do not make good managers. They find irksome the attention to details which the proper conduct of such an office imposes. Moreover, they are already prepared, in most cases, to give the best of their abilities and their special activities to the promotion of those features of the museum's growth which particularly interest them.
The director should have common sense, enthusiasm for education in all its forms, and an eagerness to learn of the good work a museum can do for a community, and a desire to see that good work done by the museum in his charge. In almost every community, large or small, today, it will be easier to find a woman than a man who is fitted to the director's task and is willing to take it.
It is not probable that the beginnings of a museum organization will ever be found as simple as indicated above. Human currents and counter-currents are too strong, especially, perhaps, in small places. In large towns there are almost always in existence organizations, like academies, scientific societies, literary clubs and public welfare groups which have either already begun to make collections or are eager to do so. Sometimes one of these may wisely be asked to take over the first of the town's museum's activities. Sometimes several of them, at a joint meeting, can form a stronger museum promotion body than can any general gathering.
There are so many variations in the conditioning circumstances that no general rules of procedure can be laid down.
A study of the social, civic and educational activities of any community will usually disclose, and quite clearly, the best method for initiating the museum movement therein.
If a museum of the old type has already been established, and if, as is quite apt to be the case, it has hardened into a cake of ancient and outgrown customs, it may be advisable to start a rival institution; though usually it is better to build anew on the old than to attempt to overthrow the old or to outbuild it.
In many school buildings will be found the rudiments of collections, usually in the field that was once vaguely designated as natural history; and often a series of remains, left by enthusiastic teachers who, when they taught a few years in the building, gathered such material as they could that promised to help make studies more alive and attractive to their pupils. These traces of museum effort in the schools are usually worth taking into the new movement, and with them would often go the interest and cooperation of such teachers as have come to realize the great helpfulness of visual aids to instruction in almost any subject,
These school collections also point to the fact that the new organization may safely count in its work on the sympathy and cooperation of nearly every teacher in the community. Indeed, it often happens that a broad minded teacher, man or woman, is easily the best person to be found to act as director in the museum's early years.
The rapid increase of public library buildings in recent decades has given a great impetus and a still greater opportunity to the new museum movement. A library lends books with pictures in them. It can equally well lend pictures which are not in books.
Pictures form one of the most effective parts of the equipment of a new museum. A library which lends them is already a lending museum, in fact, even though not in name.
The Newark library had a collection of 400,000 pictures, covering thousands of subjects, and lent them by thousands, before
it developed within itself a museum proper. In nature study it is now admitted by many that 25 colored pictures of the same bird, costing not to exceed 25 cents for the lot, are superior as visual aids in teaching, - especially if to the 25 pictures one monnted specimen of the same bird can be added, — to a whole group of mounted specimens of the same kind. Indeed, it is doubtful if a new museum in a small community can do any better work, with its first funds, than to supply its local library with inexpensive sets of pictures, mount and label them, systematize their arrangement and cover the cost to the library of storing and lending them.
Even the smallest library building can find room for the collections and the activities of a new museum in its earlier stages.
The word museum will long continue to arouse in the minds of most the thought of ancient, rare, curious and beautiful things. Full advantage should, of course, be taken of this universal mental habit. A young organization in a small town can very wisely direct some of its energy in its early days to securing the loan or gift of these ancient, rare, curious and beautiful objects, and can often advantageously house them in public buildings. In the little town of Pomfret, Vermont, with only 600 inhabitants scattered over 36 square miles of hills and valleys, the librarian of the public library, though well advanced in years, and though her library was housed in the tiniest of buildings, easily brought together a most interesting historical collection of papers, manuscripts, books, pictures, paintings, portraits and old household utensils. Inevitably this work of gathering will go on, and in due course this little community will have its museum of history, biography, pioneer life and natural sciences, even though no museum organization ever appears on the scene.
In many another town like work can and should be done. The library, often a fireproof building, can store all that may come to it and, with a little assistance from a coöperating museum body, can display always a part of its treasures at least, and thus can continuously encourage the growth of the little stream of contributions. To these "old attic” features of the museum's work, it can, at very little cost, add some of the minor activities hinted at in the introduction to this pamphlet.
From the agricultural and other departments of the state; from the state university and from private colleges; from the state's museum; from semi-public and public-service corporations; from mines, mills and factories; from private collections; from scientific enthusiasts, and from collecting enthusiasts among boys and girls, the museum can gather, at very slight expense, more material than it can, at first, advantageously use, unless it finds it possible to raise a sufficient annual income to pay a director and one or two assistants. To give a specific suggestion of what may be done in this line, we note that in one of the pamphlets issued on the work of the Newark library, “High School Aids in Visual Instruction ", is a long list of firms and organizations which furnish, free to all who ask with a definite purpose, interesting collections of material, chiefly in the field of manufacturing, mounted and labeled for display.
As already indicated, in speaking of the use of pictures, the new museum will no sooner have gathered a few objects of interest than it will begin to make use of them. The rarities, the curios, the old portraits,- most of the contributions in fact that come in as the result of the prevalence of the idea that a museum is the "Community's Old Attic”- these can all be stored, kept with great care and displayed as often as possible.
But the live part of the musem's acquisitions, the material which is for use and not simply for gazing, this will soon demand for its storage, arrangement, labeling and preparation for study and lending, more space than the library, in most towns and villages, can spare for the purpose.
Perhaps the objects acquired after the old museum method can
remain in the library and there receive their proper modicum of admiration and wonder and impart their full share of museum fatigue. Museum work proper can meanwhile be transferred to a spare corner in a school house or to a convenient room near the town or village center. Here the director and her aids, all, perhaps, beginning as volunteer workers, will meet to plan for acquisitions.
Parenthetically it should be noted that, if we seem here to be! dealing at too great length and in too great detail with very small matters in a very small community, we can properly make. reply that, in view of the new museum's needs the procedure for even the largest community should be somewhat in the man. ner we are going to outline. The whole purpose of the work is new, for a museum at least, and its elements are much the same whether funds available and population to be served be large or small.
The moment, then, that a musem of the modern type has a staff, even if it consists of one person only, and working space and a modicum of funds for purchases and current expenditures, the staff, with the approval of the proper officials, should proceed to discover the museum's possible field of usefulness. Here is not a question of acquiring rarities, or curios, or high priced objects of any kind, and placing them where those who are interested may come and see them. Here, on the contrary, is the task. one may properly say the duty, of learning what kinds of objects presented in what kinds of ways and accompanied by what kinds of printed or oral expositions, will fill a definite need and serve a definite purpose in the community. The old-style museums are founded on the assumption, itself a mere product of obedience to precedent, that the presence in a community of rare and expensive objects in fields either of art or science, gives that com. munity not only a certain prestige in the world, but also a certain mental eclat, a certain aspiration, a certain integument of culture, a certain open sesame to the realm of refinement.