Words, Museums and Experience of Physical Substance

Eric J. Woodward
1978, Vol. 10, No. 2,

Abstract


Many years ago when I was jumping through a hoop of psychology tests devised by the army, I had to say immediately what came into my mind when, one after another, words were flashed upon a screen. Whether or not the word, 'Museum' came up I do not recall, but it would have been interesting to know the results if it had. What do you think of at the sight of the word 'Museum'?

In 1931 the Government's Board of Education published a pamphlet called 'Memorandum on the Possibility of Increased Co-operation Between Public Museums and Public Education Institutions'. The pamphlet in its final paragraph stated: 'It may be suggested, in conclusion, that the word 'museum' is perhaps in part responsible for the present unsatisfactory state of affairs. Does it not suggest a depressing decaying institution, the last resting place of travellers' mementos and of fossils which have undeservedly survived from ages long ago? The existing prejudice is deeply rooted in the touch soil of our language and in the popular mind, but it would most surely be overcome if a generation of children were given systematic opportunities of enjoying the treasures of modern museums'.


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