We have a natural science museum in our city, located in a gorgeous old castle, recently renovated to blend historic and modern design. As a museum, it is top notch. As a space, it is unparalleled.
Last year, museum management started to host monthly raves in the giant atrium that runs through the centre of museum. It is an amazing place for a party and as a result, it is drawing over 2,000 people per rave.
I attended last month and had a blast. I loved seeing the museum – which I have long associated with moms and babies, tourists and class field trips – being a gathering point for the community, or at least a segment of the community.
Some critics have said that hosting parties and allowing drinking is demeaning the museum experience, and that museums should stick to their educational mandate. I could not disagree more. For as long as I can remember, museums have underserved their communities. For locals, most museums are places for parents to take their babies and toddlers (cheap with big open spaces) for class trips (this is probably useful). Beyond that, you hardly ever see teens and adults there willingly.
This underuse is a real shame. These are great spaces with infinite potential. With cities cutting cultural budgets in the name of austerity, museums need to work harder and be more creative in staying relevant. A big part of that is expanding their local appeal beyond the parents and the “culture snobs” who, ultimately, will not be able to protect them from tough budget decisions. For me, anything that can draw more people and a wider demographic to museums is ultimately a good thing.
Its great to get new, different people into the museum,,, and it is probably good for an old guy like me to get exposed to a rave.