June 9, 2012
From Justin Erik Halldor Smith
It has often struck me that no greater misfortune can befall a natural history museum than for it to come into enough money for renovations. These typically take the form of interactive screens displaying 'fun facts' directed at eight-year-olds, and they require the removal of anything that reeks of the past, which is to say also the removal of the very idea of natural history, in favor of some eternally present, unceasingly entertaining, Chuck E. Cheese-like arcade.
Just think about it: what kind of adult goes to a nature museum these days? I mean an adult who does not have some child in tow: a child, it is presumed, in need of perpetual edification? I mean a proper, auto-edifying, end-in-him-or-herself adult. These days, museums that are not about art are about nature, nature is about science, science is about education, and education, as we know, is for the kids, insofar as they, finally, are the future.