International Museum Day

Retro is definitely popular at the moment, and here’s a bit of futuristic but retro nostalgia for you. Star War! Mega movie released in 1977 and was the highest grossing film of that year, netting a whopping US $221,280,994, which was almost double the takings of the runner up, Smokey and the Bandit and third place movie, rather aptly, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  The science-fiction space epic directed by George Lucas captured the imagination of film goers everywhere. It depicted a universe set in the future where spacecrafts and technology dominated the storyline.  Interestingly, you may recall, there is a scene played out in the Millennium Falcon (Han Solo’s spaceship which he pilots with Chewbacca) where Luke Skywalker is fighting a flying bot with his lightsaber, but he’s wearing goggles. 

Well those blackout glasses look incredibly like virtual reality goggles of today, and the budding Jedi knight is being told to “feel the force” in order to defend himself and block painful shots from the bot, which is floating around firing what look like coloured electrical bullets. Now what has this got to do with the Museum of Philately you ask, because as we all know, there are no Star Wars stamps or space covers even on display within our rarities and last time we checked there are no collections from any of the cast of the movie, not even a stormtrooper trying to blast its way in. Well, the reason is that on Tuesday 18th May it is International Museum Day, which is an annual event organised by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) to raise awareness about museums being an important means of cultural exchange, enrichment of cultures and development of mutual understanding as well as promoting cooperation and peace among people. The event has been running since 1977 and this year the theme is ‘Recover and Reimagine’ – taking into account the impact that many traditional museums have endured over this last year with physical interactions being prevented and the need to embrace and develop new ways to connect and educate with people. Now, of course we as a virtual museum have to a certain extent been able to go on as normal, notwithstanding the restrictions of face to face meetings and the obvious loss of being able to attend society meetings, exhibitions and shows, which would form a valuable part of the development and expansion of the Museum of Philately. And, indeed we have utilised some of our time to develop our interface and website, and benefitted from participating in innovative virtual initiatives, such as Virtual Stampex, hosting virtual exhibitions and presenting museum tours using webinar technology, and connecting with our audience and supporters through social media and video kit. However, that doesn’t mean we are not fully engaged with the International Museum Day theme and principles, because in reality if there is one lesson we have all learnt over the last year it is that we need to learn from the past and look to the future and see what technology is doing to enable us all to interact anywhere in the world at anytime. One of the promotional graphics which the ICOM have prepared for this important day of celebration is the apparent use of ‘Virtual Reality Goggles’. It’s not hard to see how this type of innovation will be adopted by many museums, and maybe even us, to provide the interactive experience of visiting a physical exhibition from the comfort of your home. We at the Museum of Philately are certainly looking at dedicated collector rooms, online web based exhibitions, and live museum tours as well as interviews with top-flight philatelists to ensure we are part of the future of museums. International Museum Day is a great opportunity to have “A New Hope” and get excited about the future. And you never know, in “a not so long time in the future, in a galaxy not that far, far away from you, there might be the dreaded Imperial Starfleet and the good and great from the Rebel Alliance battling it out” in one of our virtual displays.