Resonance & Relevance: Reactions to Collaboratively Developed Display of Culture
Schmierer, Emily Anne
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As a field-wide effort to ameliorate criticism from post-modern anthropology and enlightened insights stemming from the "crisis of representation literature" (White, 2012), museums sought to incorporate multi-vocality in curatorial authority by employing collaborative models to exhibition development. As collaboration with cultural community members has become increasingly utilized in museums to present ethnographic content, there is significant case-study literature presenting accounts of the processes of collaboration, but there is little investigation into the final product: the exhibition. Pacific Voices: Celebrating the Worlds Within our Community, a collaborative exhibition on display at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, WA was used as a case study context to explore community self-representation in long-term ethnographic museum exhibitions. Methods included individual interviews with student members of registered student organizations that self-identify with cultures represented within the exhibit. Study participants indicated a generally positive reaction to the exhibit itself, but placed less personal value on the display of culture in museums in general. The majority of study participants valued the advocacy and education efforts of their student organizations over the efforts to represent culture in the museum. Future research into collaborative exhibitions and their reception could further explore the efficacy of the collaborative model in fulfilling the needs of the community and the museum.
- Museology