After a few weeks of separation from the Scottish countryside and the beautiful city of Edinburgh, I find myself back in Colorado preparing for my senior year back in Indiana. Being in the UK ignited a fire in my soul to have confidence when approaching museums. I was in a program with history lovers, and I learned so much about how our strengths and interests were so different but yet so important to the museum community. We had traipsed around Scotland together from Old to New Town in Edinburgh out to the beautiful Highlands exploring heritage sites.
Scotland has been an area where so much history has occurred and even though we had two months to explore it, it was only scratching the surface. We, of course, learned the history, but a huge contribution to our studies was the work done by the heritage sector. For example, one of our Friday trips was to see the many Pictish stones dotted across the countryside of Scotland. It opened my eyes to the different ways these stones could be interpreted, but also the very complicated issues to preserving these stones. Preservation, to any visitor who comes to a museum or sees a historical monument may assume that the museum knows exactly the best way to keep artifacts preserved. But most likely, that is not the case, and it remains one of the biggest lessons I learned in Scotland. For objects like the Pictish stones, there is no truly clear answer on how to best preserve these stones due to how they have been placed, their age, and their immense size. Our eyes were opened to the complexities of presenting artifacts. It is not all about making an exhibit look pretty and to display some interesting facts, but there are so many logistics involved.
After this experience I know I’ll be analyzing museums, not just in what they talk about, but how they communicate their goals to visitors, and whether they have taken the best steps toward preservation of artifacts. Since I want to have a career in museum studies this program has dipped my toes into its complexities and the expansive jobs a museum has for interested people just like those in my program group.