When does heritage start?

English: The Smithsonian Building in Washingto...

English: The Smithsonian Building in Washington D.C., United States. Edit of Wikipedia:Image:Smithsonian_Building.jpg to reduce luminance noise in the sky. 中文: 位于华盛顿特区的史密森尼古堡。 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When does heritage start?

Does heritage start 25 years ago, 50, 100 or? It is as sticky a question as “when does history start?”. The truth is you have to first define what “heritage” means. A lot of people consider heritage being synonymous with history. Rather I think you have to look at the word heritage from a much broader perspective. Heritage has more to do with where people are, how they got there and perhaps where they are going.

English: A hand-carved ivory polar bear statue.

English: A hand-carved ivory polar bear statue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heritage can include things like art, religion, spirituality, family, technology, architecture and of course history. Museums have to define what their scope is — they can’t be everything. Some museums restrict themselves to certain time periods, some to certain locations, and some to certain subjects.

Many of us have a general image of what museums cover — meaning general municipal museums. Of course there are other sorts of museums like natural history museums and art museums (more typically called galleries). Many museums have cut-off dates of 25 to 50 years before the present. Of course by definition that sort date always changes. What is 25 years ago today was the present 25 years ago — 25 years ago today was 1988. Of course many museums can take the special date or range of dates. Others are set up around a specific event which defines what the collections are all about and what their displays are all about.

Cultural Heritage Center.

Cultural Heritage Center. (Photo credit: San José Library)

I think that general-purpose museums have to keep in mind and the more general definition of heritage. They have to keep in mind cultural heritage, art, technology, religion, as well as history. Museums are more than just collections of artefacts. Museums have to have a connection with the community to be successful.

Generally, what do you consider heritage?

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