Museums can be a great site for healing according to Dr. Carla Sofka. A professor at Siena College, she points out that almost everyone has a memory of visiting a museum, and they serve a variety of purposes. They’re a place where learning can be fun. Since she began volunteering at New York museums following 9/11, she’s found that they are also great healing spaces for those in grief. Brimming with information, people of all ages can learn about events that have a big impact on their life. Museums are also a place to go for those who didn’t get physical evidence of a death of a loved one. For example, the World Trade Center Tribute Center is spilling over with memorabilia.
The Gallery of Honor in Oklahoma commemorates the 1995 bombing victims. Museums are also a great place to connect with others who have had a similar loss. It’s reassuring to have a place where others understand your situation. In some places, it’s the only place you can go to shed a tear in public. In Oklahoma City, sidewalk chalk and comment cards provide a vehicle to share feelings that might otherwise go unexpressed.
Identifying “Your” Space
There are person-to-person history events, and this is a place where empathy can be found. It’s also a means for loved ones and survivors to have a legacy for those who died. In Washington DC, there are many memorials and events for war veterans and their families. It helps instill hope, especially in those who survived a traumatic incident.
The next time you’re in a city with a memorial museum, Dr. Sofka encourages you to attend. It’s a place to cope, to discover, and to heal. Museums also provide a sense of security.