Charles Zange argues that museums can play a bigger role in connecting the general public to community-makers and their community-driven digital projects, which are political endeavors, in a sense, of promoting one narrative over competing ones. He also suggests that museums and community-makers collaborate on projects to give their works the wide exposure they need. However, that many of us think that museum exhibition is a zero-sum game of sorts; giving space to one group deprives another of the chance to display their objects. Therefore, it is essential for museums to distinguish themselves as an objective third-party. One way of achieving this is by letting the community members speak for themselves so that they don’t misconstrue their narrative.
One example of such attempt is shown by the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), an online collection of digitized items that testify to the rich South Asian culture in American society. It is crowd-sourced, meaning members of the community contribute to the expanding collection of items. For viewers, such narrative has more value and credibility, given that they’re hearing the story directly from the person who has a personal connection with the item. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that people’s memories fade. Oral stories, especially, have the tendency to get modified as they are told over time. The storytellers themselves may only be left with a vague feeling or impression of what happened in the past, which begs the question, is their story true? Museums can bolster the individual efforts of these communities and bolster their narratives in clarity and credibility by using their vast network and resources to fill in the holes and gaps. In a sense, museums can play a bigger role than simply connect. They can provide viewers with a more immersive and valuable experience by helping these communities build a stronger case for their narrative.