(Dept. of General History, University of Karachi, Pakistan)
Over the past few decades, in the blink of the eye of history, our culture has begun to go through what promises to be a total metamorphosis. The influx of Electronic Communications and Information Technologies, abetted by the steady improvement of the microprocessor, has rapidly brought a condition of critical appraisal. The modern universities are experiencing pressures from an accelerating and shifting set of conditions. These include the primacy of intellectual capital in the new economic order; globalization; the connection between multimedia technology and the instantaneous exchange of information; and the replacement of hierarchical institutions such as corporations, universities, and governments with democratic networked groups. Today knowledge resides as digitally encoded forms and is universally accessible. It no longer is “the prerogative of the privileged few in academia.
Museums generally and at the departments of Universities, have often been understood in both intellectual and popular young circles as mausoleums, or as centers of agglomeration of objects, which no longer have a living relationship with the present. This is an image which makes it almost impossible to associate the museum with debates about contemporary cultural issues. Museums throughout the world have entered the interactive arena of 21st century; through Digital Communications & computer network which decentralizes and democratizes access to knowledge bases in ways that used to be impossible, but not in the under developing countries.
Departmental Museums at the Universities provide windows for the public on the role of universities and on the importance of cultural & scientific research. These Museums can play a role model at the University, City and Country level in diffusing information regarding Cultural Heritage or any subject as the media or tool. A need has emerged to create awareness and time to take action. Museum is now deeply concerned in electronic media stream, making it an important site for the newly emerging ‘information society’. This new relationship between electronic technologies and museums, has fundamentally questioned the traditional museum’s orientation to objects. A concept, introducing a new setting or environment; which, I argue, would ultimately lead to the enhancement of museums image as New Vision Museums instead of mausoleums of artefacts in the first place.
The primary goal of introducing the concept of the New Vision University Museums (NVUM) is to impart knowledge that produces evidence of higher-level student learning and academic performance in the realm of Cultural Heritage and the New Technologies. The initiation will involve a re-evaluation of the role of objects in museums as well as that of the role of curator and museum’s relationships to communities. Further more both universities and museums will get transformed in the way that they would be able to define and deliver education through integrated, interactive Web-Sites, On-Line Exhibitions and Web-based Learning. University museums can be at great advantage due to their immediate access to state of the art technology and knowledge in fields such as IT, pedagogy, and museum studies.