Museum Experience Overload
For the past couple weeks, and for the next week or so, much of my time has been taken up by ‘final projects’ for my Anthropology classes (Public History has been in there too but this portion of our group project doesn’t fit with my theme here– a) its not final, and b) its not about museum experience). The large assignment for Professional Development was to design a course outline and present the course as if you were trying to have it added to the next year’s course offerings; the final paper for Archaeological Theory needs to be related to something you found interesting in the course that can be applied to your thesis project (or not, but that’s the route I am taking). Both of these, for me, only left one real direction…
I love it, I really do, but this has left me feeling a tad bit theoretical since I haven’t been in a museum in a little while– let alone gotten to participate or interact at one. Thank goodness I’ll be volunteering at Banting House this weekend.
For Professional Development I chose to design a course that examines the operation, creation, and experience of museums through the notion of collaboration and the application of knowledge outside of the academy. So basically it has to do with knowledge mobilization and participation. It was suggested that we not use a textbook for the class, but I felt Nina Simon’s The Participatory Museum would act as a nice framework for the class so I chose to use it anyways but supplemented it with readings from other books and journals. These supplemental readings are taken from the disciplines that are near and dear to my heart– archaeology, anthropology, and public history. The course has students create and present a poster based on intensive research in order to replicate (or mimic) the creation of an exhibit and the experience of tour guiding or acting as an interpreter. Participation, discussion papers and seminars, and a term test are also used for grading. Hopefully my Professionalization class will like this method because they get to grade me on it (as well as the professor).
My paper for Archaeological Theory, which is still in its early stages, is going to deal with the experience of museums through a discussion of material agency, interpretation, and top down/bottom up approaches. In order to demonstrate how these concepts impact museum experience I will offer up a a brief case study based on personal experience (but I haven’t gotten into that too much yet). My plan is to work on the paper much of tomorrow in order to get a jump on it for next week.
Also in the works and quickly approaching, though slightly unrelated, is my Introduction to Public History class’s presentations to the London Advisory Committee on Heritage. After which I will need to put the final touches on the report about my heritage house, and (finally) exhibit creation (not so theoretical!).
And after that, Christmas!