M is for Makumbusho (Museum).
In Swahili, the word for museum is makumbusho, meaning a physical place of memories, related to kumbuka (remember) and kumbukumbu (memories). I like these Swahili terms because they capture the role of museums in archiving public discourse and stimulating our cultural understanding of our relationship to human events, created things, and natural phenomena. The Guardian recently had a wonderful piece on how a temporary outdoor art museum in a marginalized Mumbai community is challenging mainstream ideas of what counts as art. The Mumbai museum features the avant-garde pottery and intricate tools of local craftspeople, many of whom have never set foot in a museum space. The key revelation? "When you have a museum, you count."
Particularly because I'm chasing my own growing interest in museums, I recently set out to explore a bit of Old Sacramento on a visit with family. What I discovered enchanted me further with museum exhibits as forms of public discourse, and has me thinking about ways more of us can enjoy these spaces. And even though the power went out in one museum, this didn't spell the end of my memorable encounter.
As digital spaces become more ubiquitous, I'm finding it increasingly important to temporarily unplug and make time for physical visits to material collections. So now, I want to share with you some of the insights I gathered on visits to a variety of public history and art museums across Sacramento and Los Angeles. During my spring break from teaching, I experienced firsthand how tactile engagement, play, and ambient inspiration amplified my intercultural learning. Essentially, I found myself noticing and discovering new information during moments of wonder [and wander ] with museum collections. These are curative and educational approaches I now aim to incorporate into my own practice...