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I must admit, I was taken aback by Virginia McAllister’s question, “Who Needs Museums, Anyway?” in her letter to the editor published on June 26. I have been working in Oregon museums for over 30 years and I know that museums and cultural institutions are vital to our communities.

Museums not only preserve our cultural history but have the power to change hearts and minds. Social, racial, and economic disadvantages may prevent equal access to educational opportunities. Museums are places that are open to all and value education and authenticity, celebrating everyone’s life experiences, their creations, their voices and their histories. A museum experience can give an adult or a child a feeling of belonging to their community and may inspire a hidden talent or career, a hobby, or a sense of wonder.

It has also been shown, and recently editorialized by the Gazette-Times’ own Mike McInally, that cultural institutions, including museums, are very important to the economy, both local and statewide. Museums create jobs. Museums attract tourists. Tourists and museum employees spend money and that money benefits local business and fill the coffers of local government. There is a practical, economic benefit to having a museum in your town.

So, who needs museums? The answer is: we all do.

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Irene Zenev

Philomath (June 29)

The writer is executive director of the Benton County Historical Society and Museum.

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