Do Museums Shape Society or Does Society Shape Museums

Elly Fieffer Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Elise Edwards Butler University
The Night at the Museum films rejuvenated general interest in museums. While wildly successful in terms of outreach and interest, the museum was inaccurately portrayed. The Museum of Natural History does not hold collections of a majority of what the film showcases. Rexy is not on the front display, and there is no Easter Island head to offer gum to, or little Romans and Cowboys to taunt. The world of the film is just a figment of “movie magic” that does not exist for everyday, “real world” visitors. Even though the museum still has educational and genuine collections, the media and corporations were prospering while the the museum struggled to live up to the hype. When the film moved to the Smithsonians, the museums being used for the film gave a catalog of their collections to the producers so the visitor disappointment from the Natural History Museum did not continue over for the future visitors. Museums, such as those mentioned above, have become more dependent on marketing and pop culture to keep their doors open. On top of societal expectations, there are professional standards and ethics that they must also uphold to remain legitimate. The examples of the Natural History Museum and the Smithsonian are case studies that represent the struggle contemporary museums are facing, attempting to balance a new media age and societital desires while attempting to remain faithful to their missions and collections.
Oral Presentation

When & Where

10:45 AM
Jordan Hall 238