When I was a boy, I used to complain bitterly that the museum never changed its presentation or exhibitions. In the 1970s it seemed stuck, perhaps like a Church, unable to move and part of the Scottish “system” as it was at the time, a relic. Even today they are still displaying Buddy the stuffed Lion, with the card “on display since 1929”.
However as a middle aged man, who just attended the “closure party” – as it closes for 4 years for refurbishment, I think we have made an awful mistake. For the very thing which I disliked in my youth has become a symbol of memories of times spent with loved ones and a sign of something which never changes in an unstable environment. A feeling of comfort and hope. Tonight despite the smiles and dances, that security has gone.
I cannot help feel that four years later we will be faced with nothing more than computer terminals and graphic displays (which if they are anything like the ones used by the libraries either won´t work, or will be out of service – I cant even find the library catalogue half the time) with badly dressed women ( those who actually bother to wash) with ID passes playing with their mobiles (kind of like the libraries today really). Worse still another “art space” which seems to be some kind of excuse for people to do nothing or move badly and call it Art. Please Renfrew District Council, prove me wrong.
As much as I love the museum and I know things have to change, I think that, for those of us old enough to remember the differences, we will have lost something precious in the name of progress. As for Buddy, it looks like he is destined for a basement glass case which will be viewed once a week on Wednesday only in the shopping part of the town.
It was a strange party, I honestly felt we were saying goodbye to something and that we were waving to it, without realizing that another part of our youth has been taken, not surrendered freely and the party was clearly giving the message that something big was happening here. But perhaps the more intuitive among us could see the writing on the wall.
Gone are the days when you walked into Paisley Library and were told to “shhhh” or entering the museum with silence and respect. Now its young women cackling loudly with their friends, who really don´t have a clue about what they are doing or museum workers gossiping in the corner with Walki Talkies.
We deserve better and I doubt we will get it.