Museum: How to reminisce the past that doesn’t belong to you

In this second rendition of Lenses, Anggi invites you to reminisce about the past that technically does not belong to us. But does that really mean we cannot enjoy their stories?

It’s a bizarre experience, visiting a museum.

When you step through the door, greet the person behind the counter, and show your ticket admission, you commit yourself to reminiscing the past that doesn’t even belong to you but impacts you nonetheless, one way or another.

Especially small museums. Small museums have this solemn quality, the air of thoughtfulness. As if they carry the weight of history solely on their shoulders—which in a way, they do. Like a window to the past long gone.

The museums I visited in Ireland were small in stature. But what they lack in size, they make up in memoirs. Panels and panels of historical timelines, stories of how a city was founded and lasted. Ancient rocks, giant map drawn on the floor so you could retrace what happened a century ago. Diorama recreating the life of a tribe who hadn’t invented the alphabet.

The Irish museums, especially, put a considerable focus on their long war against British occupation. Strings of heroic names, dead in the name of independence. Gruesome tales of cities stripped of power and ambushed by armories. The women’s fight. The people exiled but resilient, restrained but fighting to break free.

The gallery was quiet. I could count the number of people milling inside with one hand. Someone was snapping a picture down the corridor. I wondered what they thought about the somber death depicted in the war narratives scattered around the room.

Engraved on the wall, at the front door of the museum: “Tradition does not mean preserving ashes, but keeping the flame alight.” It’s like they’re saying here’s the museum, the relics, come see what’s inside. Here’s a chance to see beyond your rose-tinted glass. Stories kept buried but not anymore. People long dead but preserved. Lost narrative waiting to be found.

In frame: Músaem Cathrach na Gaillimhe (Galway) and Músaem Chontae Chiarraí (Tralee).

Created by : Anggarsih Wijayanti

Anggi majors in English Literature at UGM. Aside from writing everyday occurrence as if her life depended on it, she’s also big on volunteering for organizations that align with her values: women empowerment, self-development, mental & reproductive health, and study abroad. Drawing horrible comics is her forte, too.

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