Written by Alijah Poindexter, Fall 2020 Marketing Intern
The joy of learning is an intrinsic passion. There is a deeply felt intensity when someone, obsessed with knowledge and its pursuits, can leap into the depths once again. This ‘someone,’ who will learn and grow whether there is a salary or not, is consumed entirely by the experience of knowledge. But this ‘someone,’ as precious as their outlook may be, is becoming few and far between. A school was once the center for the pursuit of knowledge, and a museum the platform where it could be promoted. It seems, however, that too many people, my age or older or younger, seek knowledge only for what it can give them. They seek a salaried position and a comfortable, perpetual outlook and wish to squeeze their learning of all its’ available resources. While we all want comfort and success, we miss the point of these institutions. We come to think of school as a ledger to be filled, or a museum as a place of business, where visitors are forever ‘Exiting Through the Gift Shop.’
The museum is a document of a community’s life. It encompasses what it is to live, die and be human. The world’s great museums attract millions of visitors a year, who arrive with cameras and schedules and leave with the joy of knowledge, having never taken a picture. In Clarksville, within the eclectic architectural surroundings, sits an evolving portrait of a city and its citizens. The Museum showcases local art, some average and some transcendent, along with diverse collections of artifacts and hidden archaeological treasures. As Clarksville becomes more international, the Museum grows with it. Though its iconic cupola may blend in with the downtown surroundings, especially to those who were born and bred here, it can still astound with its beauty. And while Clarksville may become unrecognizably modern, the Customs House will remain the Customs House, forever composed above the fog of the Cumberland.
The Museum is ‘our’ Museum. It belongs entirely, as a document of past, present and future, to the community. It serves as a representation for museums worldwide. That all of this, exhibits and gift shops and the humming of the trains, mean more than an artifact behind the case. It is learning, and learning is essentially human. We have seen much from this year that we could never think to prepare for. Families have been separated, and the progress we all seek is put on indefinite hold. Yet, a visit to the Museum reminds us of the beauty beneath it all. There have been tough times before, yet flashes of hope emerge regardless. Problems can be solved by a day spent in thought and observance. Between the islands of individuals stands the immovable community, which has a piece of all of us within it.
As a student, I can admit to the thoughtless humdrum that takes up the average day. Students speed from one class to the next, their heads a collection of formulas and unsorted passcodes. Many have jobs, some working full-time, and must balance relationships, work and their studies, never really sure of what it all leads to. We forget the forest for the trees, spending hundreds on textbooks we barely read and falling asleep with our computers still running. But once in a while, we remember what this is all for. Moments of tranquil beauty or the development of true friendship. A lecture that takes a turn for the spellbinding. A piece of assigned reading that throws us into an unexpected reverie. With a quick journey downtown, we see the Museum. Within is something for the young and the old, and you will find the two surprisingly intermingled. Paintings of subtle beauty, or statues carved by an unsung local genius. We realize, with all of our packed schedules and study guides, we forgot to admire what we came here for. A silent moment with a new exhibit can hit you in an unforgettable way. The Museum is here for all of us, forever teaching, forever joyful.