The questions he faces on the blank sheet of muslin are much deeper than what happened when. “Who am I?” he asks, “and who are my people? Where did we come from? What happened to us to make us who we are? What have been the markers of our being – joys and sorrow, losses and gains, triumphs and defeats? It is my will to show a part of our path from the time of origin to the present. It is in the power of my mind and my hand. It is appropriate that I should be the keeper of the story.” The artist’s mission is no less than the identification of his tribe in time and space.
As keepers of the collected history and stories of our people, from our towns and cities, our mission is very much the same as this artist – and no less important. Without it, we lose our connection to place and our understanding of how we’ve gotten where we are. Many would argue those connections are already lost, never to be regained. Some would make the case, further, that these connections are irrelevant in today’s “global” economy.
But I ask you: Will the global economy band together and bring you dinners when someone in your family is sick or has died? Will it bring you clothes and supplies or offer to house your family after a fire has consumed your house? Will the global economy fill in to chauffeur, or feed your child when circumstances don’t allow you to do so? Connection with our neighbors and our shared or adopted past is what brings us together and makes us strong, even in the face of collective or individual losses.
Our mission is to help protect that connection, or regain it, in the best ways we know how.
If you have ideas about how to do this in the context of a local history museum, please leave a comment or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org