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  • Writer's pictureFatima Learn

Learning History And How Art Helps

I am always interested in anything war related. Movies, books and artwork. The fascination I have with war probably isn’t what you think it might be. My interest stems from lack of understanding. I am embarrassed to say that I have trouble understanding the first and second world wars. I get confused understanding who was involved and everyone’s rolls, so I watch all kinds of media about it hoping to better understand. The Americans and Germans seem to be the most highlighted in history but it is called a “world war” for a reason. I am excessively eager to find any information about the European and Canadian connection. My family’s heritage is Portuguese and if it wasn’t for the lingering effects of the wars, my family would not have left to Canada for a better life. Being Canadian myself, I also just believe I should know as much about my country as possible.

Are You a Museum Visitor?

Museums play such a big roll in educating and making an impression on a subject, much like a movie would. A well done war movie can effectively teach history if it is entertaining to watch and listen. The same can be said about a museum exhibit except I believe it is harder to do. Artifact exhibits need to catch the passerby’s interest to have them stop and linger at what is there to really be aware of what they are looking at. The time I spent learning museum and gallery studies I remember having conversations about understanding museum visitors. The number one belief was that most visitors were motivated to learn from the experience, an “Explorer” you might say. Someone who is curiosity-driven with a generic interest to find something that will grab their attention and fuel their learning. Attracting the other demographics is the real challenge for a museum curator.

Awareness and Social Skills

Movies are different than museums in the sense that viewers are entertained through story telling, sounds and visuals at the same time. This is something that museums have started adapting more to their exhibitions in recent years. Movies can actually spark an interest and inspire people to go to a museum and learn more about the subject. When you are exposed to new ideas and identify cultural differences, perhaps you will think of things you never thought about. War movies have that effect on me because only in movies and photographs have I seen entire towns in rumble. It is an experience I can not relate to but photos and films I see give me some insight. Even though museums can not display large scale pieces (such as destroyed buildings), they can display smaller items such as this match box.

It is an item we are all familiar with but its appearance from that era gives you an idea of its value back then. Through artifacts like this, you get a glimpse of the culture and what it would be like to live through those events. This is one of the reasons why during wartime, many museums were quickly destroyed— so the history and culture would be lost and rewritten by those that destroyed it. “Lest we forget”

Top Image -Pencil and charcoal drawing by Fatima Learn. A town near Vimy Ridge according to a film documentary,“They Shall Not Grow Old”, director, Peter Jackson.

Second Image - Artifact at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.


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