Exhibiting Archaeology: Archaeology and Museums

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Exhibiting Archaeology: Archaeology and Museums

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Annual Review of Anthropology


Barker, Alex W.

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Abstract: From their beginnings, archaeology museums have reflected a complex and dynamic balance between the demands of developing, documenting, and preserving objects on the one hand and sharing knowledge, access, and control on the other. This balance has informed and inflected the ways that museums present the past, including both practical aspects of pedagogy and exhibition design as well as more critical and contested issues of authority, authenticity, and reflexivity in interpretation. Meeting the complex requirements of curation, deliberate collections growth, management, and conservation, as well as the need to respond to continuing challenges to the museum's right and title to hold various forms of cultural property, archaeological museums play an active role in both preserving and shaping the public's view of the past and reflect the prospects and perils of being at once a temple to the muses and a forum for sometimes contentious public discourse.

Additional tags: museums and ethics; public discourse; authenticity; authority; reflexivity; ethics of interpretation, curation, and education


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