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How Can Museums Be Instruments of Hope to Coronavirus Locked Down Nations

Museums are the main institutions, which embody national identity and memories of peoples across the global village. However, just like other public spaces museums are negatively impacted by the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. It is no longer safe health wise for audiences to gather for museum exhibitions as COVID-19 easily spread in crowds. This means exhibitions halls are being locked up. Despite being highly contagious, the virus is limited, as it cannot be transmitted via digital platforms. Subsequently it is time for museums to multiply their efforts of reaching their quarantined audiences right in their living rooms, cars offices and hospitals. Museums remain instruments of hope to nations that are locked down as they remind them of their victories, identities and national pride. This may be actualized by taking advantage of online platforms and digital media.

Museums in some cases have their collections available online for their audiences to interact with without having to visit the physical museum. As state of emergency measures are enacted across the world to combat coronavirus, it is imperative for museum exhibitions to be curated digitally for online visitors to interact with. Interactive applications capable of keeping online visitors curious about museum exhibitions are necessary. Museums may consider usage of computer and mobile phone applications with features that enable audiences to curate digital exhibitions using museum collections in collaboration with museum curators online.

Museum digital curated exhibitions may compete with each other to spark social dialogue and innovation. Consequently maintain the essence of the museum as a social space. Creative online museum guided tours are also of significance to online visitors as they will give them an experience of touring museum exhibitions.

The outbreak of the coronavirus has rendered it impossible for schools in some countries to visit museums. Nonetheless, the millenniums our future audiences. Due to Coronavirus travel restrictions and closure of schools it is necessary to bring the museum experiences right where kids are based in their homes. Museums may develop children games using museum collections. These games will give children an opportunity to learn about museum collections simultaneously enjoying their right to play. Museums may have games with functions, which allow kids to paint or draw their favourite museum masterpiece behind their computer screens. Afterwards the best painting will be given a reward of some sort in order to keep the game interesting.

Museums may consider running television shows on exhibitions. This move will enable museums to reach diverse audiences right in their living rooms. Families who watch television together will have an opportunity to witness museum exhibitions together via television screens.

Museums may consider usage of radio broadcasts to reach audiences in their private places. In developing and under developed countries there are museum audiences who do not have access to the Internet or television but rely on radio for information. Museums may use these platforms to discuss their exhibitions with radio listeners. During these radio programmes listeners could make phone calls and interact with curator’s life on the radio.

Museums with advanced technology may consider usage of lifestreaming to share their exhibition opening receptions with audiences in countries where public gatherings are still practical.  As many countries are imposing sweeping travel restrictions as precautionary measure to contain the corona virus outbreaks. Under these circumstances life streaming will make it possible for audiences to witness life exhibitions opening receptions without physically travelling to host museums. Life online streaming of exhibitions will also expand the capacity of museums to reach their quarantined audiences.

About the author – Goabaone Montsho

Goabaone Montsho is a curator working in the ethnology division of Botswana National Museum. His job entails curating thematic exhibitions, documenting ethnographic collection of the museum and disseminating ethno historic information to museum visitors. Goabaone also works with researchers and students conducting research in the museum.  He graduated with a Bachelors of Arts Degree with a major in Anthropology (2010- 2014) from Vancouver Island University in Canada and has a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration (2016- 2018) from the University of Botswana.

Contact: goabamon2016@gmail.com

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