Upon arrival to the National Museum of Scotland, our group was assigned the task of roaming throughout all five floors of the museum in order to find three different examples of something that was used for mass communication. At first, this task seemed a bit difficult. How was I supposed to find something in a history museum that was used for mass communication? When I think of communicating to a large amount of people, my mind automatically goes to a very specific type of object that could be used to reach a mass audience. Telephones, newspapers, and radio are the initial things I believe to be basic means of communication and I wasn’t sure how I was going to find similar objects in Scotland’s history museum.
Luckily, my professor took me aside and gave me an example of something that was considered to be mass communication, regardless if it may not seem like it. She showed me a ceramic vase that was on display and pointed out the images painted all around piece. She explained that the images on the vase were painted in order to tell a story. Those who came across those images were the audience the paintings were communicating that story to. Though it may not seem like a blatant form of mass communication, something as simple as a painting contains the power to send a message.
Now having a better understanding of what kinds of things to look for, most everything I came across throughout the museum seemed to portray some sort of message. Luckily, I was able to find three interesting forms of mass communication that really captured my attention. The first thing I stumbled across was a beautifully carved dinner plate. Similar to the example my professor gave, the center of the plate was home to a carving which displayed some form of story. People that see the plate are the audience in which the story is being told and those who made the plate are the story tellers. The story is what is being communicated through an art form and I think this goes to show that words aren’t necessary to get a message across.
After the finding the dinner plate, I came across an old shield used by warriors. Similar to the plate, the shield was engraved with many detailed and intricate carvings. Decorating the shield was done so in order to portray what the warriors stood for. The carvings would indicate things such as their past and what they stood for. Their shields were their way to communicating these things to others. The final form of mass communication was a trumpet-like conch shell. This shell was blown in order to indicate that somebody of royalty was approaching. I found this interesting because all it takes is a noise in order for a large amount of people to know what’s going on.
I loved being able to explore a different side of mass communication. It’s opened my eyes to the everyday things around me that I never knew were considered means of communication and I looked forward to being surprised by the many more I come across.