CAE Reading and Use of English Part 6
You are going to read extracts from four articles in which museum directors give their views on museums. For questions 37-40, choose from the reviews A-D. The reviews may be chosen more than once.
Statistics show that museums are going from strength to strength in terms of visitor numbers, which is an encouraging sign in our computer-obsessed society. Online access increasingly rules how we approach information today, and museums have to engage with this to stay relevant. That said, a picture on a screen cannot replace material engagement with an object. Unfortunately, many people still have rather outdated ideas of what museums are like, including believing that they are high-brow institutions aimed at some international elite, which is clearly no longer the case, particularly with the smaller ones. With effort, a museum can be the heart of a community, preserving the stories which are important to those who live nearby, and I know of many such museums all over the country which are thriving.
It is interesting that people who do not think twice about visiting a museum when on holiday very rarely set foot in one the rest of the time, but this is nothing to do with a failure to accommodate a wide range of people – museums definitely do that nowadays. I think it is more that, when we are entrenched in our daily routine, museums are not high on our list of priorities. Breaking out of that routine gives you the opportunity to do different things, among them things like visiting museums. Part of the appeal of museums, of course, is the chance to view objects from around the world and get a taste of another culture. Although there are rigorous export controls stopping objects of national significance being sold abroad, thanks to the internet museums can co-operate to arrange reciprocal loans for special exhibitions.
Museums are clearly keen to capitalise on the possibilities offered by the internet, and it is a valuable tool for extending access. Exhibitions can remain on view on our website indefinitely after a physical show has been dismantled, and people have the opportunity to examine fascinating artefacts and works of art from all corners of the globe in much greater detail than they can in the gallery. The only downside of the increasing expectation of online access that I can see, is that provincial museums lose out to the large nationals, as their more limited resources mean they cannot hope to compete. I am convinced that this is what is behind their falling visitor numbers. Having said that, on a national level, more people feel that museums are relevant to everyone, rather than just a select few, and this has clearly made a difference.
I would love to think that people come through the door of institutions such as mine because they want to open their minds to new things, but, while that may be true of a few, I know that the majority are visitors to the city who are including one or two museums in their itinerary in order to add variety. Having said that, I really hope that they leave with a wish to come back, or to try other museums. I also think there is still a long way to go in terms of winning over visitors from less privileged backgrounds. In this age of fast changing, user-friendly digital technology, many people feel intimidated by the rather dry, academic way in which many still display their exhibits. We are now working a great deal more with overseas museums, and, in addition to allowing us to constantly change the items we have on display, we have found that this encourages museums, and even governments, to engage in dialogue.
Which museum director …
37 has a different opinion from C on the value of using digital media to present exhibits?
38 shares B’s view on the further benefit of museums exhibiting objects from other countries?
39 has a different opinion from A about the success of local museums?
40 has a different opinion from the others about how well museums cater for all levels of society?