I saw a documentary on TVO a few weeks ago about exhibits put on by the British Museum. The documentary was a couple years old, but one of the exhibits in particular was rather intriguing to me. It was a traveling show of stone tools that was at the time set up in Norwich Castle. The oldest of these tools was 1.8 million years old.
So far, all pretty standard.
What was different, however, was that Jill Cook, the woman in charge of the exhibit, had decided to allow visitors to handle some of the artifacts. Even young children were encouraged to pick up the million year old objects.
Granted - stones are a bit more resilient than old documents or tapestries, but the idea is the same. Cook thought that the minor damage caused by oils in the skin from a few weeks of being handled was worth it for the engagement that such an exhibit provided viewers.
It was amazing to see the uncertain looks on people's faces as they picked up the tools. Many of them looked as if they felt they were doing something wrong and treated the objects with the utmost care. As far as I know, none of them were dropped or damaged.
So go ahead. Touch the artifacts. Connect with them.