The moral obligation of interpretation

In Britain, we’re experiencing interesting social and political times at the moment [1], which raises the question again what role museums, heritage sites and by extension, interpretation should play in response to this [2] – if any. I’ve argued previously that it is a dangerous myth to think especially of museums as apolitical spaces – … Continue reading The moral obligation of interpretation

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Are we inclusively excluding people from museums and heritage sites?

I’ve recently read English Heritage’s consultation on under-represented heritages [1] and it got me thinking, yet again, about target audiences. Here are some of the points that struck a chord with me: We don’t want [insert under-represented heritage here] sites In fact, one respondent called this idea ‘horrible’ (p. 10).  In other words, they didn’t … Continue reading Are we inclusively excluding people from museums and heritage sites?

Museums Change Lives (or do they?)

This Monday past I went to the launch of the UK Museums Association’s ‘Museums Change Lives’ vision document.  And I will say that as ever, it is nice to hear and read a good few confident assertions of why our work as (museums) professionals actually matters.   And it is good to have a large organisation … Continue reading Museums Change Lives (or do they?)

 Museums 2020 and the Public: Not quite in harmony

Last week, the UK Museums Association published the research report into what the public think are the purposes of museums. I’ve blogged about the announcement of the research, and especially the brief for it, here.   I was particularly interested in their methodology [1].  My concerns were that the framework established in the brief would … Continue reading  Museums 2020 and the Public: Not quite in harmony

Encountering the Sacred: Reflections on the British Museum’s Study Day

I spent today at the British Museum’s ‘Encountering the Sacred in Museums’ Study Day. Museums: Spiritual or Secular? Johnathan Williams, Director of Collections at the British Museum, started the day by making much of the original collector’s intentions, which were apparently to show the divine as captured in objects and to challenge disbelievers by showing … Continue reading Encountering the Sacred: Reflections on the British Museum’s Study Day

Science and Heritage: An Uncomfortable mix…for some

Last week, UK’s Channel 4 aired a documentary about an archaeological dig in search of Richard III.  I found the show really illuminating.  Not because of its intended content – I actually thought the way they presented everything was neither here (archaeology) nor there (history). No, what I found fascinating was what the documentary revealed, … Continue reading Science and Heritage: An Uncomfortable mix…for some

Visitor Experiences of Co-produced Exhibitions

Last week I attended an excellent workshop on ‘Visitor Experiences of Co-produced Exhibitions’.  Co-production is a central theme in museums at the moment, and participants were encouraged to bring their own experiences of co-production to the workshop for discussion.  I came away with a few good points to ponder, which you might find interesting as … Continue reading Visitor Experiences of Co-produced Exhibitions

News programmes, not feature films, Or: Should we ditch permanent exhibitions?

I was quite intrigued by the lead article in the current edition of the Museums Journal [1].  In essence, the article asks whether we should move away from permanent exhibitions, using the number of visitors, and of repeat visits in particular, as the yardstick by which to measure value for money when it comes to … Continue reading News programmes, not feature films, Or: Should we ditch permanent exhibitions?

The challenge of objects

I don’t know about you, but I usually prefer heritage sites to museums for a visit.  Partially this may be a result of poor interpretation encountered once too often at museums.   Labels listing cataloguing information do very little for me and, I expect, many other visitors.  Such ‘interpretation’ fails to make that elusive connection, and … Continue reading The challenge of objects

Can volunteers sustain a successful museum?

Recently, Britain’s Prime Minister once again tried to enthuse people for his ‘Big Society’ idea.  In the words of the Big Society Network: ‘The Big Society is a society in which individual citizens feel big: big in terms of being supported and enabled; having real and regular influence; being capable of creating change in their … Continue reading Can volunteers sustain a successful museum?