Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Small Museum and the Small Church

Yesterday we visited Shaftesbury, the little town made famous by a Hovis bread commercial in 1973 featuring its really steep street of old homes.
But what caught my imagination was something else nearby. Tucked into the 16th century priest’s house behind the parish church are half a dozen rooms dignified with the title of Museum.
Over the years I’ve had my fill of small-town “museums” which are often not much more than a personal collection of dusty or rusty bits and pieces. And I am not that impressed with vast professional edifices of significant collections which require most of a week to explore.
But this was really interesting. Admission was free. The staff were apparently voluntary as they couldn’t answer a question of some complexity.
But the work of a museum was of a very high standard. The exhibits were completely uncluttered, the presentations well lit, the labelling not over-detailed but clear and well placed, the atmosphere carefully managed, the use of the large number of separate small rooms cunningly arranged. There was imaginative use of participatory bits and pieces for younger visitors. Altogether, it came across as a very professional affair.
That’s what I expect of the small church. It doesn’t have to have professional leadership at every point. But it must be able to draw on the best scholarship and experience to produce the best results from lay people. Local Shared Ministry makes that possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment