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Olympic museums as breeding grounds for social development


Olympic museums as breeding grounds for social development

Luis Henrique Rolim Silva discusses the need for sporting museums to look beyond individual achievements, to capture the Olympic movement and its associated values

Museums as places for education and social engagement

There are thousands of sport museums around the globe. With different approaches, some of them place emphasis on an Olympic sport, others showcase local clubs, etc. But despite the differences amongst them, what should the concept of these museums be? Are they places for social development?

Sport museums should showcase the historical progression of sport to contextualise the sport phenomenon. Going beyond high-performance and sponsors, they should be places of education and social engagement rooted in the community, exploring the values inherent in sport and use the Olympics as a reference.

Looking beyond individual achievements and creating a social legacy

But why have most of these museums focused on the winners? Because we know that athletes represent  themselves, the hopes of individuals, communities, etc. Everybody wants to feel like a champion, to see the gold medal, to listen to the national anthem and raise the flag.

Restricting the Olympics to the heroes under-represents the Olympic phenomenon. The Olympics gives us the opportunity to explore, not only Olympic values, but also our social values.

Thus, museums should select stories that can represent every single participation, because sometimes a non-medalist can helps us to transmit more educational values than a 5-time champion.

What is important is to provide visitors with the possibility to understand the Olympic movement rather than create stereotypes of heroes or anti-heroes.

Providing examples of athletes connected with the local community, which can disseminate Olympic values is the way Olympic museums can contribute to social development.

Luis Henrique Rolim Silva is currently the Head of Research at the Qatar Olympic & Sports Museum.



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Luís Henrique Rolim Silva


Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 08:00