Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Museums in Mourning

The museum world is in mourning.

Today a man walk through the doors of the US Holocaust Museum in Washington DC and shot a guard. Guards had to return fire for the safety of the visitors at the museum, including a group of 165 eighth graders there on a field trip.

The guard, Stephen T. Johns, subsequently died at the hospital. The Holocaust Museum will be closed tomorrow and flags will be flown at half mast in his honor.

I've been to DC twice and of course my favorite place is the mall. So many fabulous museums in such close proximity. My most recent trip to DC was last August. It was a wonderful trip and the first time my husband had been. On our last day in DC we stopped to get frozen lemonades after we had finally been asked to leave the Natural History Museum because it was closing time.

It was such a lovely evening to be sitting on a bench at the Mall watching the sun set after a hot August day. We watched some guys playing football and there were little girls turning cartwheels in the grass. It was so peaceful.

In my mind that image has been changed. A shot rings out and everyone scatters for safety. The football is left abandon on the field. Peace is lost.

I can't imagine being one of the guards. Have they ever had to fire their guns before? I'm sure it has changed their lives forever. Their peace is lost.

I can't imagine being on the staff of the museum. When they go back to work in a few days they will be missing a coworker, a friend. Their peace is lost.

In my mind there are just certain words that should not go together in phrases. A new phrase has been added to this list: museum shooting.

The museum world has changed. I think most people in museums feel that museums are peaceful establishments of knowledge and learning (unless it's a children's museum - then it's a loud, fun crazy place of learning). That was changed today. Our peace was lost.

The museum world is not only mourning the death of Officer Johns, we mourn the lost of our peace. Tomorrow every museum should have its flag at half mast.