Ignorance of History

Boston Public Library

Artifact #2: Boston Public Library

Dominic Malo, Student, Fitchburg State University

There are many different kinds of people in this world. Different cultures and languages create a variety of historical artifacts that have led many to spend their lives researching them. These artifacts could be anything from writing to temples that reach towards the sky and everything in between. The more we study and learn about these artifacts the more we know about ourselves and the past societies that helped create who we are today. This type of research is rarely talked about in more recent times as the birth of the internet has caused a false sense of knowing; if you don’t know something in a few seconds you can with Google. I would like to talk about how to properly introduce people both young and old to our history and current providers of this kind of education.

The first part of learning I would like to talk about is understanding the importance of artifacts and their meaning to those they belong to. One of the more common methods of teaching kids of a younger age and education about other cultures has been to bring them to museums. Now bringing children to museums to see artifacts from both local and foriegn cultures is a positive way to try and grab their interest without hammering them with tedious worksheets and readings on them. Letting them see all the beautiful pieces of art and stone statues made by people on the other side of the globe can spark interest and excitement about learning, but a key point is being missed. Some if not most of those artifacts indeed belong to those cultures and peoples from across the globe, and yet they are being held in our museums for some reason. Expeditions and excavations were set out to dig up and discover the past of some of the greatest mysteries, such as what lies beneath the Great Pyramids of Giza. The teams got proper clearance to excavate and were given the opportunity to explore and uncover anything they could within the structures.

For reasons unexplained, whenever these teams go and find these amazing relics and artifacts of old, there is a sense that they now belong to them. The artifacts are then taken from their homeland and put in glass cases so that different peoples can observe other cultures' prized and sometimes holy artifacts. Now do not misunderstand. I believe museums are important and can help all sorts of people learn about human history, but I do not agree with how they do it. I had chosen an artifact to write about that is a prime example of how I would like to see museums operate: the Throne of Queen Hetepheres.

While the throne is not one of the most sacred or important artifacts of the Egyptian people it is still their history, and the team who excavated it understood that. An understanding was met and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts excavation team left the throne in the care of the Egpytian government for reconstruction and repair, meanwhile they asked if they could study it and replicate it for viewing means. Of course this reasonable request was metm and using their own funds, time, and means of labor the MFA took it upon themselves to create a replica of the throne and transport it back to Boston for display purposes. Is this not a near perfect example of how people should work together? Various cultures understanding their artifacts' significance and allowing the peoples of said culture to remain in possession of their history, that is how I would wish the future of excavations and research would be done.

Now moving onto the second of my artifact choices I would bring up a resource open to all and one of the best places to go if you are trying to learn more about the world around you: the Boston Public Library. It is not a secret that libraries are used to store books and collections of notes and information of various topics, but it is also a rather underutilized tool for learning. When I say underutlized I am in no way ignoring or forgetting about the many wonderful programs such as the ALA who focus on early learning and education using these libraries. There are many wonderful organizations out there that spend their time and money trying to improve the methods and resources used in providing children their education. I would just like to point out the more forgotten resource that is normally found in almost every town or city you might live in: the libraries.

The Boston Public Library was my first choice to represent the public access that a large amount of the population has to these learning materials and the various opportunities they have to use them. The library has an average of four million visitors every year, to use the many resources and programs it provides. Can you believe it? Four million people each year take advantage of public learning. This was a wonderful find and really made me excited to research more into just how much this one library helps so many people on a daily basis. It provides both chances to teach young and old students, offering lessons, children friendly reading sessions, and even chances for health and fitness with now online hosted video meetings. I cannot state this enough: there is a free resource that students, teachers, parents, adults, just about anyone can use! Learning about the history of man, how to do your taxes, how to read, learning English, how to get a job, the list goes on and on of what this one building offers the public. So perhaps more schools and educators should begin looking more towards these free resources and allowing their students to open their studies to their personal interests with this vast pool of knowledge stored in places such as the Boston Public Library.

Transitioning into my final artifact, I would like to merge the two ideas mentioned previously, bringing together the two methods of learning and creating one place of learning. I would like to talk about the New York Morgan Library and Museum. Before I jump into the description and talk about the many opportunities that can be found in the Morgan I would like to elaborate on my reason for choosing it. My vision for a museum is to have the replicated artifacts on display same as now, but to add small reading sections to each exhibit allowing for more detail and possible learning on each artifact. I want kids and adults alike to be able to view these artifacts and then if interested be able to have instant access to more information to draw their attention to the wonders of the world. Curiosity in learning about interesting topics can easily spread into an inspiration for other projects, activites, and topics you may already be researching.

The Morgan Library and Museum is a similar concept to my idea for the future of education and the buildings that encourage it. It has a museum ,and its many exhibits spread out throughout the building with a library directly connected to it. While there are not various sections right there to provide more information on the artifacts, you could easily walk a minute to your right and find a hall of knowledge just waiting to provide for any questions you might have. Now the library itself is an important aspect to this place of learning for many reasons: it supplies books and also provides a very similar variety of programs to that of the Boston Library, giving students both young and old a chance to increase their knowledge on various topics, learn how to do certain jobs, and provide opportunities to meet people who work in various fields of work and research. They offer jobs and internships for students looking to gain experience in working with all sorts of historical research and are very willing to give out letters of recommendation to help those students secure a future job or scholarship. Opportunities like these hat help not only educate the students looking to better their future, but provide them with the chance to have a brighter future make places of learning like the Morgan Library and Boston Public Library so important.

By reading this essay I hope you too can see the importance of these artifacts and what they represent and offer in our lives. The many unnoticed and unpopular ideas and notions of these places of learning stop many people visiting these wonderful resources, and I would hope that this reading could change that even if only a little. Education is important for all ages and for all people, not just for grades and graduating from the various schools you might find yourself in, but also to help you better understand the world around you. The world is much bigger than many of us may think, and learning about it should be every person's right; the more we learn about the world we live in perhaps the better we can make it for the future.

Thanks for reading about my artifacts, and I hope my message reached you wonderful readers!

"Facts & Figures." Boston Public Library. Web. 7 May 2021.

"Home." The Morgan Library & Museum. Web. 28 Apr. 2021.

Trader, Patrick. "Guidelines for Phase I, II, and III Archaeological Investigations and Technical Report Preparation, West Virginia State Historic Preservation Office." WVCulture. www.wvculture.org/shpo/techreportguide/guidelines.html.

"Early Literacy and Education." Libraries Matter. Web. 7 May 2021.