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This assumption is vigorously championed everywhere. Acting under it, communities are still taxing themselves to get, and are asking private benefactors to get for them, marble palaces filled with those so-called emblems of culture,-rare and costly and wonder-working objects. The natural history of this mother of the old-style museums, this sublime faith in the civic value of curios to the general public, is interesting and insiructive. Here is no place to set it forth. We can only say that, frankly, we cannot discover advantages to any community, from the presence in it of one of these culture-fetishes, at all commensurate with its cost. It serves no definite and expressed needs. It is alien to its community in every respect of that community's life, save in that of its unfounded traditions. That it is, in our opinion, well that these things come into the public's possession, we have already clearly stated.
The new museum, on the other hand, does not build on an educational superstitution. It examines its community's life first, and then straightway bends its energies to supplying some of the material which that community needs, and to making that material's presence widely known, and to presenting it in such a way as to secure for it the maximum of use and the maximum of efficiency in that use.
The more modest the new museum is in its staff and resources the wiser it is to begin its inquiries in the field of formal education. Aids in teaching, over and above the text book, are always too few. The studies even of the primary classes can all be made more interesting and more easily and thoroughly mastered with the help of things. The teachers, the supervisors and the superintendent can tell what are the objects, of the many different kinds which they would gladly add if they could to their teaching tools, which best combine the advantages of being useful, low in cost, easily transported and not easily damaged by use.
If the community is a large one, it may be wiser to begin by supplying a few things to the high schools. Here the pupils who will use what the museum can lend are few and a few copies of the same things will supply the demand.
In this educational work, wherever it may begin in the city's educational system, the fundamental principle of the new type of museum, which is the fitting of acquisitions and activities to actual demands, should, of course, be closely followed. Many objects will come in as gifts and loans which will have no relation to this educational work; tho'it is astonishing how much of what the old type of museum, seeking only the unique, old and costly, would consider quite useless and even unworthy of acquisition, has an admirable utility in the vast field that opens to the museum of the new type.
The early exhibits of a new museum need not conform at all to the conventions. One could be made of the handwork of pupils in the schools; another of the needlework, from plain sewing to the finest embroidery, of the women of the town; another of cherished heirlooms from homes of the older families; and still another of the "collections", from birds' eggs and stamps, to kites and models of flying machines, of boys and girls.
A preëminently good field from which to draw resources for a first exhibit is the community itself,—its history and present condition. A "community exhibit”, being in effect a modest community survey thereof, would include maps old and new; old records; diagrams of growth; statistics of nativity, occupations, etc.; town reports from the earliest date; pictures of the town of all periods; charts and diagrams on the town's income and expenditures, on the public institutions, its roads, water supply, etc.,- incipient budgets, in effect; pictures, or objects, illustrative of its flora, fauna, etc.; in fact anything which would help to give any resident a clearer view of the history, the advantages and the needs of his community,—with, of course, suggestions to old and young as to specific things they can do to make the town a better place in which to live and do business.
· Loan exhibits are easily secured. They are often particularly useful in a museum's early days, before it has acquired many interesting objects of its own and before it has a staff which can give time to the preparation of exhibits of local material even of the simplest kind.
Your State museum may be glad to lend a complete exhibit of some kind, adapted in size and character to your needs and equipment.
The Federation of Arts of Washington, D. C., lends many exhibits, some of them small and easily shown, others more elaborate.
In Massachusetts, for many years, a Library Art Club has distributed each year among the libraries which form its membership many interesting exhibits for temporary display. • Many individual artists and firms making or handling interesting products are ready to prepare collections,-from oil paintings to campaign badges and buttons,-and to lend them to any responsible organization. Many libraries and a few museums are glad to be of help in the same way. .
The Newark Library prepared an exhibit illustrating the craft and the art of Bookbinding and lent it to be shown in more than forty institutions. It has lent many other small collections. The Newark Museum recently prepared an exhibit on the art of making posters, and another on the printing of Mr. Bruce Rogers and both of them are now on their travels. : Cases will be needed in which to show objects which are rare or valuable or are easily injured by dust or handling. But so many exhibits can be shown without cases that the lack of them need not check the new museum's early activities.
When cases become absolutely necessary they can sometimes be borrowed and it is always possible to buy them second-hand. The best kinds are always very expensive, whether new or second-hand.
WHAT SHALL THE NEW MUSEUM COLLECT . First of all, ideas. We have already mentioned, incidentally, many of the classes of objects which a museum may wisely gather. Notably it should collect pictures, and a pamphlet in the Newark " Library Economy Series”, on the Picture Collection in that library, describes very fully and in very specific detail methods of collecting, ar-: ranging and managing pictures of almost every kind, and tells how to make them available for almost any purpose.
It should look for collections of hobby-riding specialists and enthusiastic gatherers, especially those which have been carefully identified and labeled. .
It should collect things to illustrate the community's history, like household utensils, wills, deeds, letters, early pamphlets and portraits of the first settlers.
It should try to find collections already made which illustrate the flora, fauna, geology and mineralogy of the region, and the origin and development of its industries and of its social, civic and religious societies.
If such material as we have already mentioned has not already been collected, the museum should try to find those who will take up one and another division of the field in which it lies and encourage them to work therein.
It should gather material illustrative of the community's manufacturing enterprises, and at the same time try to get objects from other places, other countries and earlier times of like nature to that which it gathers at home. Here it will enter the field of applied art, and this it will cultivate persistently whenever opportunities are given.
Painting and sculpture it should not neglect, of course; though the importance to the community, and so to the effectiveness of the museum as a teaching institution, of collections in these fields has not been shown to be as great as enthusiastic admirers of them have assumed them to be.
But, above all other things, the new museum should begin by collecting ideas.
No one man knows how a museum should be managed that it may, with the funds available, reach the maximum of efficiency in its one and obvious task of adding to the happiness, wisdom, and comfort of the members of its community. We say no one man has this knowledge; indeed, with perfect assurance we can say, that this particular parcel of knowledge has not yet been wrought out of experience. It does not exist.
But concerning it there are many ideas-we are, in fact, humbly trying to set down some of them in the series of which this book is the first-and it is these ideas on museums and their management which we are sure those who are beginning to erect a museum of a new type should try to collect before they collect anything else whatsoever.
Here we refer again to the list of books, journals and pamphlets found at the end of this volume. Those who have the founding or the development, or the organization of a museum in mind, should study at least so much of this elementary museum literature as will enable them to visualize, with a fair degree of definition, the institution they wish to erect, and to make intelligent inquiries concerning its founding and growth.
SUGGESTIONS FROM OTHER MUSEUMS They may then hope to get suggestions of value from the museums named in the list which follows this essay. Of these museums it should be said that the readiness with which they accepted the suggestion that their several names appear in this list and that to each be attached a note indicative of fields of inquiry in which it considers itself somewhat peculiarly fitted to give advice and suggestion, demonstrates very clearly the truth of our statement that the new museum idea, the idea of a definitely useful museum, is in the air, and is indeed in a large degree accepted as a proper guiding principle by most museum workers.