In scientia veritas, in arte honestas.
In science truth, in art honour.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been questioned a lot about my decision to choose Art History and Museum Studies for my Master’s degree. I had several conversations with highly educated people (in my work place) doubting my “educational” choice.
However, I must confess that working in an institute filled with scientists and engineers helps me understand their concerns. Why did I choose this major? What good can it do me professionally? Is it a career-changing path? Why didn’t I think of pursuing a Master’s degree in marketing or graphic design, which is my current job? And, finally, will I leave Khalifa University once I get an offer at one of the upcoming museums in Abu Dhabi?
I have answers for all these questions, but the only one I’m not very comfortable with is whether I will be leaving KU.
I joined Khalifa University about eight months ago, and I honestly LOVE IT here. The environment is challenging, innovative and evolving. Working here as a graphic designer with the team in External Relations has been a rewarding experience. Leaving KU for my dream to work as a museographer or mediator will be a hard choice. So I’ve been asking myself if there is a way to practice this dream at KU.
During one of my classes, “Museums in the 21st Century,” I came across a very interesting idea. The course focuses on teaching the fundamentals of museums in the new millennium; and, introduces the different classifications from universal to specialized museums according to the collection, organization, and the area of service, intended public, etc.
Art, archeology, natural history, science, technology, decorative, ethnic are few of the collection types we see in today’s modern museums. Yet many of the people around me still believe that museums are created solely to preserve and display art collections, help local economies and serve certain type of public.
But there is so much more to museums than most people know. A museum, as defined by the International Council of Museums, “acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.”
A museum is a place for learning, education and innovation! Isn’t that the mission of most universities? The basic fundamentals of museums and higher-ed institutions are very similar! In fact, there are many “University Museums” around the world!
The Oxford University Museum of the History of Science is one of the main and most interesting ones. MHS holds around 18,000 objects from antiquity to the early 20th century, representing the history of science. MHS is used for both academic study and enjoyment by the visiting public.
This concept has potential for KU too. We could be the first university in the region to establish this type of institute– an innovative step by itself. Thinking about this idea inspired me and I imagined that the “Khalifa University Museum of Science and Technology” could hold historical collections from the science field, and inventions of the Islamic world. I can see interactive labs, displays of projects, models of invention by KU students, and much more.
Art and Science aren’t incompatible. They are part of the same double helix of life. We can’t have one without the other.
By Amna Al Blooshi
Senior Graphic Designer, Khalifa University