Archive for September, 2010

OLD DOOR
September 27, 2010

Dear Old Door,

Where do You lead?

Tell me more.

And what You need?

You say nothing.

Well,  listen then to me!

You are open,

You seem welcome,

And inviting!

May I enter?

Yes or no?

Don’t You hear me,

Dear Old Door?

 Well, I can see

That You are something more

Than wooden desks

Made into doors.

The number  beside You:

Twenty- seven, is silent, too.

What should I do?

Who will tell me, who?

The Past seems looming behind You

Rather dark and gloom.

Yes or no?

I don’t know…

 

 

 

 

 

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THE CLOUDS
September 25, 2010

The clouds – black, violet or white

Might waken lovely dreams,

Indeed they might,

And bring some light

To our dreary life.

Just look up to the sky!

THE SKY
September 25, 2010

How prone poor Humanity is to dam up the minutest remnants of its freedom, and build an artificial roof to prevent it looking up to the clear blue sky. E.T.A. Hoffman.

Indeed. And the roof is not only the roof of a house!

HARVEST MOON
September 24, 2010

Moon, Full Moon,

How great you are,

This year

Titled Harvest Moon.

You are like

Sun of noon,

September Moon.

Hanging above  wood

Breathing dark mood.

Do You warn us

Of what might come?

ENDLESS BRIDGE
September 20, 2010

Pinkish haze

Casts  magic maze

Drawing  shadows

On the watermeadows

While Bridge,  the endless fellow,

Tries to reach the brim: so yellow

Still beaming  far away,

Parting with the dying day.

MUSEUMS – NATURAL EDUCATORS (1998-2010)
September 20, 2010

MUSEUMS – NATURAL EDUCATORS 

Nature itself determines our curiosity and thirst for knowledge. Since times immemorial, Homo sapiens strived to search and understand the miraculous world around us, and to collect material things and experience – first orally, later in a written form.

 Museums are material formations that deal with human experience, knowledge and traditions, and, of course, material objects.

 Museum things may show a good path to our imagination. A museum is like a time machine capable to carry us across Time and Space.

 There is a negotiation between a visitor (with his/her knowledge/experience) and displayed museum things. A good museum exhibition makes a visitor to lose the sense of life transferring him/her to museum reality.

 Every museum, through written and non-written texts, offers informal learning opportunities. Quite subconsciously, we learn and cognise. And our learning might turn into joyful experience. The more we visit museums, the more educated and therefore dignified we feel.

 Every generation can find identity at the museum – occupational, cultural, and national.  At the museum we can sense our roots, and get the feeling of belonging to this world. It is really important that museums offer first-hand values while TV, newspapers, and radio are second-hand informants.

 European countries nowadays can boast with multinational and multicultural populations (with various mentalities, sometimes very different).

 Every nation strives to apply its identity.  Museal experience, however, has proved that identity sometimes can be found through understanding other nations.

 To illustrate this statement, I would like to mention a historic fact. In the 1920-ies, Sweden got interested in their (then recently born) Baltic neighbours. On February 24, 1928 (Estonian national birthday), the Nordic museum in Sweden opened the Estonian exhibition, and it was a great success. Some years later (in 1930), in Riga (Latvia) there was held archaeology congress. Soon after that, thanks to ardent initiatives of the well-known Swedish scientist Sigurd Erixon, the Baltic Institute was founded, and Swedes could get acquainted with Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian cultures. In 1931 there was opened the Latvian exhibition.

 The genuine interest in the Baltic States made Swedes to explore their own folk traditions, and seek their identity. Thus, the neighbours’ cultures served as the key to the doors of Swedish culture.

 MUSEUMS ARE NOT MAUSOLEUMS. When the Day comes, their collections gain extreme significance. Historic turns are of great help to the museum world. National self-confidence is vitally important, especially in crucial moments of history. Towards the end of the 1980-ies, the three Baltic countries gradually, but determinedly strived for political sovereignty. Latvian museums boomed and triumphed with national exhibitions. Formerly depressed people stood in lines to see the exhibition Latvia between Two World Wars. Latvians gulped down the information and knowledge which has been taboo for fifty long years of Soviet regime. Freedom of speech and expression was something nearly forgotten (and therefore extremely appealing). Exhibitions like that demanded courage from museum people since Latvia’s freedom was still crisp and threatened.

 Museums are life-long learning (LLL) institutions and address both the young and the old. Children to museums as a rule are brought by parents or school teachers while the adult can freely select learning opportunities, and that is the main difference between a very young and adult museum visitor. Quite a large number of populations are rather negatively disposed to museums, probably due some unpleasant memories of the school time. Some may dislike schools and the didactics. And museums can be a most wonderful solution of such problems.

 Latvians, my countrymen, are a reading society, and most have at home private libraries; all the public libraries are crowded. It seems that museums have survived the hardest times and now attract more visitors, too.

 Museums as natural educators must sense (sharply and properly) the needs of actual political and economical situation and according to this arrange exhibitions that can arouse creativity and initiative in visitors.

 In museums one can trace most traditional threads to sciences, art, analytical thinking, ancient and established pedagogic traditions. Unfortunately, not all museums can boast with education programs and museum pedagogues. Especially neglected, for years, was Adult education.

 Nevertheless, every museum can provide information about its stores (though no museum displays all the collections). Even the smallest museum has educational resources that should be exploited in contest with time.

 The main goal of a museum, however, is to provide education by active participation. A museum visit may become a part of education, skilfully supplemented by workshop activities, lectures, and other museum activities. The visitor should participate! That is the main point. The very museum visit is like reading a book. We can read slowly and carefully, return and reread a page (a part of a museum exhibition), select freely and individually; or vice versa: simply run through museum premises and gain nothing.

 Museums must be very WELCOME and coordinate their working hours with working hours of most visitors. In Europe very often this scene is different.

 Museum education: today and yesterday

David Anderson, the Head of Education of Victoria & Albert Museum in London, says that museums in the past were far more closely integrated with adult education sector than is the case today. It might seem a bit strange taking into account the great technical progress of museums.

A prominent figure in the field of museum education was Artur Hazelius who managed to unite his pedagogic zeal with great, deep interest in history of Sweden. Hazelius was convinced that every museum display should be understood by everyone. According to him, the museum material should be presented so that every visitor could perceive it and enjoy. Hazelius’s exhibitions were realistic, sometimes sentimental, but always true. A number of museum scientists followed him.

Museums are manifold educators. First, museums offer information. The range of sciences and culture sections presented by museum displays is extremely large. Museum collections cover archaeology, geology, biology, environmental studies, industrial development, sociology, astronomy, history, fine and applied arts, music, religion and much more.

Museum staff can and must learn from methods and techniques of adult education. The museum associates should educate teachers. The National Gallery of Art in Washington, for instance, offers Adult Hours led both by museum lecturers and volunteers. For accessible fees these Hours offer lectures, courses, and teacher workshops.

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the Greenwich Park, in their turn, serve as a basis for local history classes.

English museums have specialized in short courses for speakers of other than English languages. These courses are run by two tutors; the students in most cases have never been to museums having scarce knowledge of English history (if at all). English museums offer courses for beginners, more advanced students etc. I suppose such system can serve for every multinational country (and most countries nowadays are multinational). At a museum course students can form connections between museum things and language units.

It seems that every museum can be creative: the only problem is to have genuine interest and care for visitors. The potential visitor should receive good information and always be welcome.

Museum information can be offered in many ways: by folders, booklets, placards, invitations cards, bookmarks, souvenirs, TV and radio broadcasting, newspapers, newsletters.

A good idea is a shop/kiosk. Also a nice café can attract more visitors. Museum shop is an important supplement to exhibitions and can have relevant literature and good selections of various items thus provoking curiosity and public interest.

Museum publications can reach those who usually do not visit museums. An interesting article or a nice, cheap museum souvenir can promote a desire to learn more. Both newspaper articles and museum shops serve for the local history and build communication across centuries.

Quite often museums have no money for things like that. Why not try to organize a museum friends club then? We can invite businessman with their families, government people, celebrities…

Museum is a place for meetings. And there is a good many ways how to gather people. We can arouse their interest and make them a museum-reading society. A meeting of collectors, for instance, might appeal to many hearts.

Courses, or series of lectures, as a supplement to museum exhibitions, or even a single object, can bring a great effect. Dancing parties, concerts, stage performances and other improvisations can enliven museum exhibitions.  The winners are both the visitors and the museum. Very popular are weddings at museums.

Museums can offer promises for various meetings – political, cultural, commercial etc.

Museum activities may be various. Everything depends on creativity of the museum staff. Gothenburg City Museum in 1998 arranged a wonderful Christmas exhibition Juletiden. I still see it in my mind. The curator asked the local people for help, and the response was overwhelming. Christmas tree decorations, dolls, tomtars (goblins), sculptures, table cloths, cards, photos and many other nice things travelled to Gothenburg City Museum.  There was also an interview book on a museum table, and children addressed their parents and grandparents asking to tell about their Christmas. I suppose such a book could be published. I wonder who was more spellbound by the fantastic Christmas show – a parent or a child.

Museum links education with leisure. Very effectively we can arrange local history courses, various quizzes, disputes on special history section, art, crafts etc.

Any museum is a proper place for learning in a new environment (and is far better than a boring classroom).

Some English museums provide students with introduction to extremely manifold range of skills thus preparing museum allies.

Even a small museum can promote educational and cultural activities, ensuring good situations for creativity and enthusiasm.

Aizkraukle museum in Latvia, in cooperation with Jaunjelgava Culture house, used to organize Crafts day including trade elements and folklore shows. Craftsmen and artists came from the entire district bringing their products: baskets, barrels, ceramics, paintings, textile articles, and knitwear, and cloth articles. At the museum yard they demonstrated various production processes. Such shows attracted crowds. Actions like this can arouse creativity among museum visitors and the very museum staff.

Frilandsmuseet in Denmark collaborates with a group of retired people. In the 1990-ies a group of older people planted and took care of the garden. During such activities the museum staff gained some good experience as well. By teaching others you learn yourself!

Retired persons can be requested to tell and write down their reminiscences. The people pass away, but the written words remain, and sometimes such manuscripts are of great value.

Another direction of activities could be basic literary skill classes and also more advanced authors’ groups, family care, social SOS services etc.

While visiting exhibitions and shows, by joining a workshop or a class we can gain confidence in learning, and thus open the doors to further education. For more advanced students museum activities help to delve deeper in their interests.

At the Ulster museum in Belfast (Ireland) there are weekend activities related to museum’s permanent displays and temporary exhibitions. These activities include conversations on football, making Halloween masques, talking on bats, poetry readings, art workshops, Christmas activities (including concerts and decoration making workshops).

Museums can organize photo clubs, drawing and painting classes, choir singing, carnivals etc.

Special attention and care must be paid to socially excluded and disadvantaged people – immigrants, handicapped persons, the unemployed.  Museums can send leaflets to Social service departments and other institutions, inviting them and their clients to museum courses.  For a symbolic fee students should have a chance to participate in workshops, and museums even could issue some kind of certificates. To some students such activities would be of great value.

Museums can organize fan clubs, geographical studies, theatre activities, home economy and commercial courses, various interest circles.

The British Museum and the Tate arrange specific expositions for the blind people.

All museums should ensure wheelchair accessible expositions and activities.

Museums are fact rooms, scientific and factual libraries and archives. The very museum exposition serves for the purpose. Many writers and publishers, researchers, teachers and educators use museum archives and materials.

A very special thing is Museum Nights. Pharmacy museum can turn the night into magic experience; History museum can carry visitors to middle ages with fantastic dresses, music and rituals.  Even the smallest museum can issue interesting programs. In Latvia Museum Night lasted only till midnight or so. I suppose it would be a real Museum Night, till the very morning.

Computers: in 1998 I was rather shocked seeing a modernized museum – it seemed that nobody was interested in museum things, but computers. Will the computer obsession replace a traditional museum visit? At the libraries you face the same problems. Nevertheless, today it is impossible to live without Internet information. Museums can organize virtual conferences, lectures, and webinars. Funny, but even computers nowadays are museum things. In Sweden there is the Personal Computer Museum where one can see several generations of computers starting from the oldest ones.

Museums should tightly collaborate with other institutions. The UNESCO recommendation (1985) foresees that museums contribute to the education of the public through all stages of life. A permanent link should be established between museums, educational authorities, professional organizations, social services of industrial and commercial enterprises, and the like.

Museum instructions imply that museums must encourage ALL sections of population (and the working class in particular) for visiting museums.

Close cultural ties between museums, on one had, and various social groups, professional organizations, trade unions, unemployment offices, industrial and business enterprises, on the other, are extremely important. Museums must be in good contact with mass media, so that museum activities reached the population.

Museums should have good relationship with other culture institutions, schools, universities, colleges.

Military museums, for instance, are natural partners of army units while Art museums can be twinned with art schools and scholars.

Museums must be friends with all local communities, including hospitals and prisons.

Museum education opportunities are developed through collaboration with a range of partners, and partnerships quite often involve more than two parties.

Museum education departments need remarkable financial support from the national and regional bodies. Consultations with municipalities and governments should be turned into museum policy and action.

AUTUMN 2010. FOR THE SMOKING POET
September 18, 2010

A cloud akin to puffy sheep

Floating on the sky so blue and deep…

The sun is leaving for some rest

Letting winds to do their best.

Meanwhile the autumn hurries in a rush

And with a tremendous brush

Strokes bright paint on every tree and wood

Thus pretending to be nice and good.

Is autumn really kind?

Well, I don’t mind

The Indian summer’s mellow face,

Shading a silvery trace

Of melancholy and pain,

And even endlessly crying rain!

The world seems grey and sad

Though things aren’t so bad –

Why, the Nature falls asleep,

Sleep so sweet and deep

That we can only sigh

And say good-bye…

FAIRY WOOD
September 14, 2010

Welcome to the Magic Mood
Of my lovely Fairy Wood,
Where mist and haze
Chat of bygone days.
Lonely Elf dwells there
Combing long, green hair:
Every morning, every night,
And her eyes shine grey and light.
Well, the time seems lazy,
Though some nights are quite amazing.
Listen!
On a darkest afternoon,
Once the very Mrs. Moon
Left her puffy clouds
And addressed quite loud
Our lonely beauty Elf…
Now and then
(Only God knows when),
Goblins come, and Sprites
Just to spend a jolly night
Watching stars so cute and bright.
Welcome to my Fairy Wood
With its Magic Mood!

MY TINY BOAT
September 7, 2010

The night begins to tint the sky,

My tiny boat is drowsing shy.

The lilac shade starts kissing lazy stream.

My tiny boat is falling into lovely dreams.

The day was good and bright.

But now I’ll have a starry night.

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