I’m thinking about one of the points that Joel Garreau brought up in an article titled “Is There a Future for Old-Fashioned Museums?” in The Washington Post two months ago (7 Oct).

Referring to Wiliam J. Mitchell’s (director of the MIT Design Laboratory) writings about the digitalization of urban environments, Garreau points out that “the vast choices available on the Web punish places that try to be all things to all people”, and favor instead small specialized “places for the cognoscenti”.

This tendency may be valid for museums too, he suggests:

The lesson for museums is that nimble upstarts can win big. Large, long-existing players complacent in their old formulas can die.

An encouraging prospect for small mammals like Medical Museion (and Jim’s place in Oxford) who are competing with Science Museum dinosaurs!

What attracts the cognoscente/connoisseur is of course the exquisite artefacts. So, in a world of big digitalizing-frantic omnibus museums, the specialized thing-centered museum will perhaps thrive. Maybe (so believes Garreau) because it speaks to the squirrel collector inside us.

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