I’ve spent some time in European museums. I’ve visited Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw, Oslo, Bergen, Prague, Berlin and Munich. They are immensely packed with a variety of artefacts and a pretty good amount of collected history. Each of them has some content – very niche but does have content.
However, I felt a severe lack of museums about pre-war history (excluding art museums). Most museums are relics of Nazi suppression and Soviet occupation. The museums focus far too much on contemporary history. For example, I read that 16th century Riga was a major port and local Baltic hub. Or about Germanic tribes. I couldn’t find museums that tell me more about them. I’m not saying that these don’t exist – because they do. However, they’re not emphasised enough.
More importantly, I missed thematic museums. There are topical museums, but not thematic. Thematic museums mean museums surrounding ideas. Like on “flea market”, “mythology”. These would sample artefacts not limited by geography or period. These would be expansive. There are enough topical museums – WWII Jews, concentration camps, Munich Science Museum, etc.
Given that you can get the most information on the internet these days, another better idea would be to establish “cultural parks”. A place where you can go to experience another culture – their local settings, food, mythologies, living style, etc. If there is one trend on the rise in tourism, it’s experience tourism. More youth travel today to experience the local culture than to visit churches/cathedrals. This will increase further over the years.
This idea of “cultural parks” is not something new. I remember reading Helen Keller’s visit to World Fair when she was a child. She was fond of Lord Ganesha (elephant-faced Hindu god). These days World Fairs are just about business card exchanges. I can just imagine different facts the world would be surprised to find about India/Japan/Ireland/Korea/etc.
You enter a place. Visit mini Japan. You’re offered Sencha, Mancha, Hojicha, and many other tea options. You are served in a Japanese hut, joined by a young woman in kimono telling you Shinto stories. The garden is decorated with Ikebana. Next, you go to mini Uzbekistan. Have some horse riding. You eat plov and manti in a restraint where shashmak songs play in the background. Next, India. Next, Mexico. Next, Ghana. And so on. Won’t it be wonderful? I would definitely sign up for membership. They’ll offer far too many attractions to cover in a day.
We need cultural parks—a collection of many cultures in one place. With rising western influence/Americanisation, this is required more than ever. If not for just education, then at least for culture preservation. Moreover, this park should have global branches. Like Madame Tussauds does with wax statues.
Museums are old fashioned. Wikipedia has already told me parts of history. I need to experience the present and the dying cultures across the world. I need cultural parks.