Month: December 2013
As an intern with Ancient Shores, Changing Tides, I interviewed several of the participants about what they hoped to achieve by taking part in the Museums Connect exchange. Answers included cross-cultural understanding, new exhibition and storytelling techniques, and enhanced understanding of local heritage. All noble causes, but I was skeptical at first. What do an established museum in the United States and an underfunded museum in the Philippines have to teach each other? Luckily, I was able to journey across the Olympic Peninsula with the delegates from Sibaltan and their Suquamish hosts. After two days of touring heritage sites on the Olympic Peninsula, sharing meals, and swapping stories, it was apparent that they would reach their goals.
Since the delegation’s visit, my involvement with Ancient Shores, Changing Tides has been more peripheral, so I am eager to catch up with the participants midway through the grant. I am particularly curious about the progress they have made toward their goals, and whether their desired outcomes have changed after the first visit. Of course, I can and will ask them about this, but first I would like to share a few questions and musings about the benefits of community museum exchanges:
How does a cultural exchange program such as Museums Connect strengthen the implementation and functioning of community museums?
Ancient Shores, Changing Tides project leader Lace Thornberg has identified six principles to which community museums aspire: they 1) are committed to social justice, 2) place a strong emphasis on training local people to preserve the collections and manage the museum, 3) are built by activist leaders, through a participatory approach with an emphasis on collaboration, 4) preserve both material cultural heritage and intangible cultural heritage, 5) link the past with the present, promoting community identity and cultural regeneration, and 6) collaborate, cooperate and share best practices. Both the Suquamish Museum and the Balay Cuyonon can be characterized as community museums, founded by and for community members as places in which to shape and share their histories and identities. Museums Connect has presented these museums with the opportunity to fulfill the sixth principle: collaboration, cooperation, and sharing best practices. This principle may seem a little surprising; community museums should focus on the local by definition, so how does collaboration and sharing with other communities contribute to their missions? I’d like to know more!
Maybe you can help answer some of these questions:
- Why are collaboration, cooperation, and sharing best practices especially important to community museums?
- How do these activities support the other five principles mentioned above?
- How does international travel strengthen this collaboration?
- In what other ways can community museums effectively collaborate, cooperate and share best practices?
Add your comments here, or click over to the Ancient Shores, Changing Tides Facebook page to contribute to the conversation!
[Post by Mariel Francisco, Puerto Princesa, Palawan]
Before the visit I already expected that there would be a lot of difference between the two places, which was the main purpose of the visit: to share the culture of each community. I learned several new things that amazed me. When I arrived the first things I noticed were the advancement of all people when it comes to technology and that the government and the people worked together to implement the law. I’m so curious how they do that and what people think about it. I also noticed the cleanliness of the place: not one fallen leaf and the traffic was so minimal.
I want to list 5 things that amazed me so much:
The first one is that we saw Filipinos everywhere and anywhere. It’s kind of amazing that when they see you and know that you are Pinoy they smile at you and talk to you, even though you come from different parts of the Philippines. And you know that they are so happy to see their kababayan and to help and comfort them in a new place.
Second, I know that US is a federal state but, then again, they recognize their tribes such as the Suquamish tribe. That they give them the right to their own village is really amazing. They can preserve their culture, land and all things around them that they own.
Third, the fishing ground was great. I wish we could do that in Sibaltan and apply what they have when it comes to protecting their fishing ground. We have beautiful sights in our place, but it’s a preservation area and mostly a tourist spot,not a fishing ground for the fishermen tto use as a source of living. I’m so impressed that they can get the fish or clams just near the land where the village is even though they are not farmed. The season determines what they can get and which area is allowed. We are thankful that they allowed us to witness how they do that. I hope we have that total implementation for those so people don’t forget their responsibility to protect the sea so that they don’t need to go far just to catch fish.
The school is the fourth thing that amazed me. The kids were taller than me and they thought that I was younger than my age, which made me happy. The school was one of my favorite stops since I always looked forward to visiting and it happened! As an education major, who exposed with the same environment I tried to search for new approaches and strategies to use. I am happy we were given time to talk to students and tour their school, even though I wish we had much longer. I wish we had had time to observe one of their classes as well. I have already had time to talk about what I saw with the principal of the laboratory high school in PSU and she was impressed. According to her, there was a time in the past that each teacher had their own classroom and the students were the ones who went to each room. But since it’s an experimental school it depends on the needs of the students they change it. I also loved the concept of their library and the iPod thing which is so useful for the learner. I wish we had that. In addition, their urge to teach the young generation to learn their native language so that they can preserve it is remarkable.
Last but not least, the museums: We have visited a lot of museums since our first day in Seattle. What attracted my attention was when there were things or materials they used that we have the same in the Philippines. It’s kind of amazing to realize how our ancestors were so smart that they came up with these things and used these materials for so many situations! Miles away we have also ancestors who used the same things! The good examples are the basket, paddle and canoe. They have different design sometimes but the same use. It’s curious to me that so much is the same time. How did that happen?
We know that it’s normal that we have a lot of commonalities with other Asian countries. Maybe these similarities happened during during the time they were traveling with canoes and had no concept of country, or some other time they met but we don’t know. Its weird how miles away they have the same way of living for quite sometime.
I also loved the long house inside the museum. It’s big so you need a large space to fit that in the museum.I actually prefer the Balay Cuyonon since it is an actual house. It’s more interesting since it can be used. And the life of people in Sibaltan is mostly the real village of our group of people in the past. I am so proud that they preserved and sustained it.
I am also thankful that we had a chance to actually see the working area of archaeologists in the Burke Museum. It was a privilege. That thank you so much to Peter, Laura, Lace and all the people working down there who were so excited, happy and giving of their time to show us their collection about the Philippines. The most remarkable thing in the collectionwas the original Filipino flag, because it’s our pride and it so symbolic to us that they have it. It was the first time that I saw that the color of the other side of the flag is green instead of blue. They really took care of it, and not only that but also their other collections. I was also amazed with how they arranged the collections area. I talked to Sir Jun about whether we could have the same cabinet in the PSU Museum and the only answer I got was that we need a big fund for that.
I would like to thank all the people who made this project possible. Lace, who is hands-on in everything and became our mother during the visit. Peter, for letting us visit the Burke Museum, joining us and sharing knowledge with us. The people of the Burke Museum for giving us time and sharing us what we have that you tried to take care of it. To Wade and Mary, who were always there to assist us and document everything. To Janet Smoak for leading us and welcoming us to the Suquamish tribe. For the Suquamish people who gave us time to share their food and culture. To the Filipinos in Seattle who were always willing to assist us. To all the people behind this project, thank you so much for giving us your time and sharing with us your way of living.
Thank you so much