JournalNo.6, May 1999

MA Museum Studies Dissertation Abstracts, 1998
Institute of Archaeology
University College London
31-34 Gordon Square
London WC1H 0PY
United Kingdom



The development of marketing plans for museums: purpose, practice and programming
Makiya Al-Hajeri

This dissertation studies the development and construction of marketing plans for museums (using the London Transport Museum as a case study) and then applies the results to developing a marketing plan for a museum in the UAE.

Chapter 1 discusses and analyses the importance of marketing for museums; defines and distinguishes between museum marketing and other forms of marketing.

Chapter 2 evaluates and analyses the LTM marketing plan in terms of marketing principles. The LTM plan (which runs to 8 pages attached with supporting information) provides a general guide and outline to marketing principles and identifies the main areas needed to compile a marketing plan for museums in general.

Chapter 3 examines the methodology for constructing a marketing plan for the Ajman Museum (UAE) using the LTM marketing plan and other data as a reference point.

In the conclusion both the marketing plans were compared. It is clear that the general principles were transferable; however, some aspects differ between them such as the mission, objectives, target audience and capacity of market place.

I hope this dissertation will contribute something to the museum field in my country (United Arab Emirates).

To glorify or empathize? The interpretation of war in military museums
Rebecca Cheney

Military museums are beginning to respond to recent changes in the presentation of history in museum. They are increasingly highlighting the social relevance of their collections. This change illustrates a recognition of the importance history has in the lives of people today. Not only as a way of understanding where they come from, but also in locating themselves and their communities in the present and the future. It gives rise to very important and interesting questions about a controversial aspect of our past, that is the effect violence and warfare have had on individuals and communities. The two World Wars in this century have had a profound effect on western culture and national identities, and this dissertation proposes to investigate the way in which the experiences of war are interpreted in military museums.

The effectiveness of museum displays in relating the history of the First World War will be contrast to other sites of remembrance, for example, war memorials and the cemeteries of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. An assessment of other forms of popular culture, such as historical novels dealing with this period, will also be compared to museum displays and a comparison will be made between the approach and design techniques used in the Imperial War Museum and the new in Flanders Field Museum. In conclusion, it is hoped that some solutions to the problems faced by military museums in interpreting the controversial aspects of their collection can be found.

Comparative analysis of the Korean Galleries in the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum
Hyung-Ran Choi

Since the late 19th century, Korean objects being purchased or given by various individual collectors have come into the British Museum (BM) and the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A). The first gallery opened in 1992 at V&A but followed, with much improved atmosphere and presentation, 5 years later by the Korean Galley at BM. Both are supported by the same private company, Samsung, one of the largest companies in Korea, which intends to build up its image as a patron of Korean culture. The two galleries have different policies, management and displays: V&A illustrates Korean architecture with decorative interior artworks and with interactive exhibits. It also made serious attempts to show female culture and contemporary art. The BM, being the second gallery, has better lighting, atmosphere and clearer labelling, with mention on the ancient history and Buddhist art. Neither museum has a long-term Korean education programme, although the V&A has its yearly course in autumn. The museums do have vague relationship with the local Korean community. Also, the Korean government assists to promote Koran culture and tourism as well.

The Korean galleries can be good models to influence Korean exhibitions in other museums in the future.

The site museum: A means of presenting, revealing or reconstructing the past?
Elaine Dean

The most recent work to be undertaken concerning historic and/or archaeological site interpretation has focused upon the growing trends towards live interpretation, audio, visual and audio-visual aids, building reconstructions and internet sites. The rise of such multi-media projects has shifted the focus of site interpretation away form the traditional site museum.

This study proposes to establish what role the site museum plays in a site visit and whether the term 'museum' is entirely appropriate for buildings that so often contain shops and restaurants alongside exhibition areas that lack the back up of traditional museum collections and curatorial staff.

The study also examines those 'new' medias that have been adopted to replace or complement the site museum in order to identify the most effective ways in which British archaeological sites (and especially British Prehistoric sites) can be presented to the public.

I will argue that some of these 'new' medias, in attempting to reveal the past, consciously or subconsciously recreate the past in a form that will be more appealing to a non academic audience and in doing so draw interpretations that cannot be found in the archaeological data.

The comparison of the site museum and alternative medias intends to illustrate the stability of the museum in archaeological site interpretation by reflecting on its ability to reveal as opposed to reconstruct the past even though its very nature poses certain restrictions on site interpretation.

These issues are dealt with through the examination of existing projects in Britain and America and through the closer examination of a proposed innovative project for Catalhoyuk Turkey.

What becomes apparent from these studies is that whilst current British projects concentrate on a physical site visit the proposed project for Catalhoyuk concentrates on an off site visit making the site available to a wider audience. On-site provisions are seen as important for those who are able to visit the 'real' site of Catalhoyuk but on their own they are seen as limiting the opportunity to disseminate the knowledge acquired through the research project. On-site interpretation at Catalhoyuk is to be provided primarily by a site museum, thus expressing the dominance of the museum in the on-site interpretation of prehistoric, multi-period sites.

Trying to communicate: A comparison of access and communication strategies in four new galleries at the Science Museum and the V & A
Christian Dettlaff

Ideally, museums are venues which offer a service accessible for all. Providing exhibition environments which allow access for the widest possible audience and facilitate good communication has become the key to the museum's future.

This paper compares and contrasts four new permanent exhibitions at the Science Museum and the V&A. It investigates how a major science and art museum reflect the aim to provide their visitors with worthwhile display experiences. While a broad range of aspects relevant to facilitating exhibition access and communication are investigated, particular attention has been paid to innovative communication media and how these contribute to the creation of interesting exhibitions. The central finding of this study is that the approaches of both museums towards exhibition access and communication are in many ways comparable, and that the access and communication methods previously associated with science museums have been adopted successfully for decorative art displays. However, while demonstrating many novel communication media and methods, all four galleries feature surprisingly similar shortcomings also. The second part of this paper will investigate these, arguing that in the process of providing access and communication through revised and new media, some basic (yet crucial) good access and communication strategies have been neglected.

The impact of corporate sponsorship on exhibitions: The British Museum
Juliette Dugat

Why do many museums attract corporate sponsors to support their exhibitions? What impact does it have on the exhibition topic, content, format and programme? What is there in the nature and the elements of exhibitions that make them an interesting 'investment' for companies? What do sponsors expect from their association with a museum? Is there a threat of censorship or influence on the exhibitions raison d'Ítre accompanying such external funding? Does it create tension within the museum and changes in its structure and nature?

Applying these questions more specifically to the case of the British Museum helps in understanding the position of museums on corporate sponsorship. This relatively new and increasingly widely used funding source seems to be welcomed by both museum curators and administrators and seems to have a popularising impact on exhibitions. It has apparently strengthened the shift in mission of museums toward a stronger educative role. This may well sometimes lead to a situation of self-censorship, even 'commodification' of culture. Concurrently, the structure of the institution has given a greater role to non museum specialists and is becoming more and more professionalised, often to the detriment of the traditional importance of curators and scholarship. The pre-eminence of the British Museum however makes it less subject to this trend while it helps it to become more attuned to its audience and the changing society.

The museum in the context of empire and its legacy upon post-colonial society in Britain
Claire Everitt

This paper examines the relations of power attached to the imperial ideology and how these relations have been inherited by museums in Britain, with particular reference to national museums in London, despite efforts to represent multiculturalism.

An examination of the Imperial Institute, a national designed to function as the model museum of the British Empire, provides an insight into the ideologies of race, knowledge and military power which dominated the interpretation and representation of other cultures within its exhibition galleries. The shift in its emphasis of these ideologies, through representation and interpretation, is also discussed in relation to the demise of the Empire and how approaches to the Other changed only slightly. The paper also discusses how these Eurocentric ideologies still persist in some national museums in London today.

The length of this paper does not accommodate a full discussion on the implications of the imperial legacy upon the museum in British society, and only a few examples have been selected to illustrate that the museum needs to re-evaluate its role as a museum in the postcolonial context. The paper concludes that an absence of an examination of the impact of the imperial legacy upon museums will continue to thwart the goals of museums which wish to address the multicultural identity of Britain.

Struggling to survive? An investigation into the pressures faced by small independent museums using case studies of East Grinstead Town Museum and Steyning Museum
Joanna Mary Irene Follett

This is a study based on small independent museums in West Sussex (those with under 10,000 visitors a year, have only a few or no paid staff, and charge either a nominal admission fee or are free). Case studies of East Grinstead Town Museum and Steyning Museum have been carried out to give an insight into the way small independents cope with daily pressures of inadequate funding, resources, facilities and manpower. Using evidence drawn from interviewing the curators of these museums and by spending an observation day at them, independents are put into the context in which they work.

More than any other sector of museums, the small independents demonstrate remarkable self reliance and revenue earning drawing upon the skills and willingness of small amounts of paid staff or volunteers. However, commentators have realised that the future of these museums is tenuous and requires radical reappraisal if they are to survive. The solution is not straightforward, possibly requiring amalgamation of staff, or even the museums themselves, in an effort to avoid closure. The case studies demonstrate that survival is feasible, revealing successes and failures and exhibiting the great potential and energy that these museums have.

"With kind permission of the Burrell Collection": The inquiry and its outcome
Karina Grazin

No abstract available

Heritage site assessment: Interpretation at two English Heritage sites The Down House: Home of Charles Darwin and Battle Abbey (inclusive of the Battle of Hastings site)
D. Hall

No abstract available

A neorenaissance episteme for the natural history specimen: Breaking the fixity of 'legitimate' valuation
Richard Harbord

This paper explores the issues involved in the construction of value of the natural history specimen in an attempt to break the fixity of 'legitimate' valuation. The nature of a dominant 'legitimate' value is discussed and the reason for its continuing dominance within the Natural History Museum, unaffected by a changing world. Debates in Museology suggest that a more self-conscious heterogeneous valuation of natural history specimens may be possible. In the 'Cabinet of Curiosities' of the Renaissance we find an episteme in which all forms of knowing artefacts were equal: mythical, aesthetic and emotional feelings of wonder and curiosity were seen as equally important to the explanation of that artefact to the cabinet's audience. I am interested to know whether a neorenaissance episteme could have relevance to post-modern society. I conduct a study of the social worlds within the Natural History Museum against a background of social anthropological science studies, using the 'boundary object' theory as conceived by Star (1989) and Star & Griesemer (1989). Through this analysis using the notion of boundary objects and through studies of material culture it emerges that the legitimate constructs of valuation are tenaciously adhered to although there are clear indications of other suppressed value constructs. I suggest a more unifying way of valuing museum natural history collections, an incorporation of suppressed value constructs to 'enchant the space.' I believe that a neorenaissance episteme would produce a more inclusive, more rewarding interpretation of natural history specimens which would give the audience more points of access into the material culture of our collections of 'naturalia.'

Minding their own business: Corporate museums
Mary Harvey

Through the study of seven corporate museums, the nature of corporate museums and their relationships with their corporate parents and the wider museum community was examined. Prospects for the expansion of the sector and its growth in popularity were also discussed. It was revealed that the main motivating factors behind the establishment of corporate museums were the public relations opportunities and a belief in the importance of the company's heritage. A related discussion on the motivation for not establishing corporate museums concluded that the poor public image of museums was a prime deterrent. The status of corporate museums within the corporate sector and the wider museum community was then examined. Most of the museums studied received ambivalent treatment from their parent companies which, it was argued, was related to the nature of their formation and served to devalue their status within the corporate environment. This poor attitude towards corporate museums was also evident in dealings between corporate museums and the wider museum sector. An increase in visitor numbers and facilities suggested growth and an increase in popularity for corporate museums but it was argued that further development depended upon an improved attitude towards the sector.

Making museums accessible: The dilemma of museums of modern art
Siew Hor

Museums of modern art are today, like all other museums, under great pressure to change. In particular, increasing competition for limited funds and demands for greater accountability have meant that such museums can no longer justify their existence principally in terms of the care of their collections and the serving of particular interests. Increasingly, they are being asked to demonstrate that society as a whole is benefiting from the investment it makes, and not only those who have chosen to visit, by providing access to their collections on a multitude of levels: physical, conceptual, intellectual, and multisensory. However, such proposals have been greeted with great hostility by those who perceive an inherent contradiction with the traditional practices of museums of modern art.

This paper attempts to examine such 'dilemmas,' real or otherwise, which museums of modern art currently face, and how such museums can begin to go about reconciling the necessary changes with the demands of traditional practices and scholarship. Questioning if traditional interpretative methods were ever suitable at all, the thesis takes a brief look at the history and current trends of museum visiting and non-visiting, as well as elements of visitor studies and learning theories, and suggests alternative policies for museums of modern art with the aid of case studies.

It is not the aim of this paper to provide definite solutions, for there are none; however, what is attempted here is the illustration of a wide range of choices available to museums of modem art in making their collections accessible to a wider public, and which will put them in the direction of becoming more responsive, and responsible, institutions.

Reconstructing the past: An analysis of reconstructions and models in museums, heritage and archaeology
Jacqueline Marie Hunt

The subject of this study is the use and critical analysis of reconstructions within museums, heritage and archaeology. This study investigates and analyses the general context of reconstructions, then focuses in particular on the use of miniature and scale models within the presentation of prehistory.

The study reveals many concerns and problems within the general use of reconstruction media. It also demonstrates that there are issues and concerns specific to scale and miniature models. Analysis of the use of models in the context of prehistory at three museums reveals that every model has specific functions and that generalisations about reconstructions cannot be made.

This study concludes that although reconstructions raise many concerns within the context of contemporary museums and archaeology, they will probably remain viable means of communication for the future.

Displays of dissension: Changing attitudes to human remains
Emma E. James

Attitudes and approaches to human remains have varied widely throughout the history of mankind. Originally religion controlled the fate of the dead, and belief in an afterworld prompted many elaborate burial rituals. However the decline of religion, a growing faith in the sciences to explain the origins of man, and colonialism have led to human material being collected, investigated and displayed, regardless of religion or 'cultural ownership.'

Museum professionals and scientists worldwide are now realising the importance of listening to the opinions and requests of indigenous groups. Legislation has been introduced in America to protect the cultural heritage of the Native inhabitants and similar legislation has now been called for in the UK. How far will such policies go and will repatriation endanger the presence of all remains in museums, institutes and stores, depriving the scientific community of the information sealed within the human bones?

The treatment of human remains is a subject that will always cause contention amongst some people. Therefore, can science and public interest justify the holding of such sensitive material in the museums of the future, or will the inclusion of remains as educational exhibits eternally be regarded as 'Displays of Dissension'?

The pure and the impure: The relationship between the Self and the Other in the "Victorian Museums"
Vanita James

This dissertation focuses on the relationship between the Self and the Other in the nineteenth century museum and then looks to the portrayal of the Other in the twentieth century museum to assess whether museums have come to terms with their past objectives. The theory that the creation and the perpetuation of notions of the Other was due to the political climate at home and abroad and was particular to the Victorian era, is explored using a number of secondary sources. I have attempted to place cultural perspectives from other disciplines, anthropology, history, and post colonial studies, into the museological arena in order to present a synthesis of museology and the study of the Other, and so taking Pearce's work on the Other further.

My point of origin is an article from The Observer (1996), highlighting the plight of the Hottentot Venus and the situation involving her remains, as it stands today. I have traced the situation back to the nineteenth century to understand the reasons for her ill-treatment as a representation of the Other and have then re-situated the problem in the present day by looking at the Maori exhibition at the British Museum, thereby illustrating that the past must be confronted, to move on to the future.

Cultural heritage, cultural identity and restitution: A case study of the Kankaria Mosaics
Louisa Leventis

The fate of the sixth century mosaics from the Church of the Panagia Kanakaria at Lythrankomi in north-eastern Cyprus presents the opportunity to examine a very particular case, which reflects many universal concerns. Though interesting from numerous perspectives, not least for the legal precedent set or the insight into the world-wide trade in antiquities, the scope of the present study will be limited. Through exploration of the forces that lie behind the successful restitution of the Kanakaria Mosaics, their significance as perceived by all parties involved provides an insight into the conflicting priorities given to cultural property. Simultaneously, the methods by which the Autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus regained the mosaic fragments, ranging from private negotiation to litigation and police action can be compared to other cases, drawing interesting global parallels.

Museums and 15-24-year-olds
Annette Mactavish

This dissertation looks at the relationship between museums and galleries and people in the age range 15-24 years old. The study considers whether this age range is attending museums, providing evidence from the national museums as a case study. The services offered by museums are illustrated again by studies of the national museums. The needs of the age group are discussed as revealed in part through three focus groups (15-16, 19-20 and 22-24 year olds).

Museums, it is revealed, are not really catering for the 15-24 year olds. The services they provide are mainly targeted at schools or the general adult visitor. This age group itself, however, appears disinterested in museums and galleries viewing them as irrelevant. Museums and galleries need to change this perception if they are to increase attendances by this age group.

Problems of permanence: Cultural collecting in the twentieth century
Annabelle Manning

With contemporary society being fast changing and often considered transient in nature, the question of collecting art and material culture from such a postmodern time supplies the context for this paper. The investigation into this subject and related issues prompted enquiry into themes of the nature of culture, related social attributes such as value systems, semiotic analysis of object, audience relationships. Practical aspects were considered such as interpretation of the object, including notions of past, nostalgia and selection, as well as attitudes to care and conservation of contemporary object where the intent of the artist/maker and integrity of the object is of paramount importance.

Investigation and research was undertaken through discursive modes of analysis. This involved reference to the works of a number of relevant theorists and practitioners in the field including of Pearce, Baudrillard, as well as collection and interpretation of primary information through interview with a number of professionals such as Sandy Nairn at the Tate Gallery, Eleanor John at The Geffrye Museum, Javier Pes from The Museum of Reading, and Robin Clark at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The aim of the paper is not to offer concrete solutions to this issue but to identify issues for consideration and highlight the problematic nature of collecting contemporary objects for use within a postmodern and post-postmodern museum context.

The soldier's story: The role of military museums in interpreting ordinary soldiers' lives
Richard McDonough

Traditionally, regimental and military museums have collected a large number of 'relics' relating to prominent military figures and commissioned officers, with few objects related to the ordinary rank and field of the army. This has presented a one-sided view of the social fabric of army life and the challenge that now faces many museums is to find methods to portray and interpret the lives and experiences of those who formed the bulk of the armed services, but who left few exhibits behind. The case studies included in this paper will deal with three museums that have risen to meet this challenge.

This first case study looks at the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museums, which explores and interprets the lives of men and women within the context of their involvement with the regiment. The second case study explores the Soldiers' Life Gallery at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle which presents a typical soldier's life from recruitment to death or retirement, in a series of thematic displays. The final case study examines the National Army Museum, set up to tell the story of the British Army, and highlights its attempts to place it within the context of Britain's social history.

The period room: Three approaches to the challenge of authenticity
Valary Murphy

The period room has been a common technique of displaying furniture and other objects within museums for many years. Although there are differences in method, the recreation of period settings is not only widespread, but is also extremely popular with visitors.

The validity of period rooms as a device for interpreting the past has been questioned in the last twenty years, with curators keen to distance the museum profession from 'heritage attractions' - which often have period settings and tableaux. Today, however, attitudes are altering towards the use of period rooms as a method of communicating the past to a multicultural audience.

This dissertation briefly examines the history of the period room display, and discusses the main reasons for its utilisation or rejection. Three different approaches in London to the use of period rooms are explored. Their methods of communication with their visitors and reasons for any recent or imminent changes in interpretation are illustrated.

Finally the place of authenticity and the influences and pressures affecting the decisions in creating a period room are considered. Secondary sources and interviews with representatives from each site prove that popularity with visitors need not prevent a period room from being a valid contribution to the scholarship and interpretation programme of the museum.

'Hands-on our...': An investigation of the Family Handling Sessions at the Horniman Museum and Gardens, London
Fay Anna Newman

The following dissertation is an investigation of the Handling Sessions at the Horniman Museum. This investigation examines the teaching style used during the sessions, how the audience responded to the teaching style and the objects, and assesses their own opinions about the sessions including their level of involvement. A naturalistic observation technique was used to assess the sessions and field notes were taken (a similar session at the Museum of London was observed for comparison). A questionnaire was used to collect the opinions of the audience at the Horniman sessions (adults and children were questioned).

It was found that the session were a great success and both the Horniman Museum, and the handling sessions in particular, received large levels of repeat visiting. It was concluded that the 'whole family' teaching method was justified as both adults and children enjoyed the sessions and perceived that they were learning in the process. It was discovered that the talk and handling sections were equally important and generally the talk was favoured by adults and the handling by children (neither group disliked either section). A list of suggested 'Best Practice' guidelines for family handling sessions has been written.

Managing enquiries at the British Museum
Eva Oledzka

Enquiry services constitute an important part of the pubic service and educational duties of any museum. The British Museum, being one of the largest museums in the world, attracts a vast number of public and specialist enquiries. This study examined how the enquiry services are managed at the British Museum. For this purpose, the managing of enquiries at the departments dealing with the largest numbers of requests were investigated using an interview method. These departments were: the public services, museum archives, and curatorial departments. The study found that the British Museum enquiry services are not centrally managed and that the departments dealt with enquiries using individualised approaches. All of the departments included in the study were very aware of their public and educational role in society and seemed to manage their enquiry services in an effective, efficient and visitor friendly manner.

"The way we never were": A study into the role of the museums in creating a national identity in nineteenth century Norway
Vibecke Osfoss

In 'The way we never were' I focus on the way the Norwegian national identity was created in the nineteenth century and the process of selecting material for building an official image of the cultural heritage.

I give an introduction of three museums from the nineteenth century which were specially important in this process; 'Maihaugen', Norwegian Folk Museum and the Oslo Museum of Applied Art. Several persons who were central in the nation building process were also involved in the formation of many museums, and I show how this has influenced the way these museums presented Norway and the national heritage.

In Part Two I look into how Norwegian museums present Norwegians today, and find that many still exhibits the image created in the last century. Some museums are moving away from this though, and we see a tendency to present Norway more 'realistic' and including the ethnic minorities.

Original sin? Exhibits of human origins, and how we can make them better: A synthetic approach
Jeremy Matthew Ottevanger

This dissertation attempts to synthesise a strategy for exhibiting human origins. It draws upon three line of evidence: the state of current exhibitions of the subject; the desires of the audience; and the expertise of specialists in the field of exhibiting this subject. Critiques of three museums are presented, together with a visitor survey conducted at the Natural History Museum and a report upon interviews with three specialists.

Current exhibitions are seen to be diverse in their content and means of presentation, as well as in their attitude to learning. Visitors want a broad-ranging exhibition that combines the cultural elements with the biology and places the whole in an evolutionary and environmental context. They would prefer to be offered a synthetic story, but with the option to explore specialist areas in greater depth. The specialists offered advice generally consistent with the survey.

The resulting synthesis emphasises breadth of subject matter, multiple means of intellectual access, and opportunities for digressing from the narrative.

Museums and controversy: A mismatch of perceptions?
David Packer

In recent years there has been a growing trend in many museums both to examine contemporary social histories, and to approach historical narratives in new ways. These new approaches are often linked to initiatives for museums to become more inclusive and accessible, especially to sections of the community who do not traditionally visit museums. Such approaches inevitably throw up ideas, concepts and issues that many individuals and groups within society may find disquieting or even offensive. If museums are indeed changing their role to that of a public forum, is it possible for them but to approach controversial areas, and can curators hope to avoid stamping their own views and outlooks upon a finished exhibition?

This paper will argue that contentious issues cannot be avoided, primarily because controversy arises from a fundamental mismatch in the way museums are viewed from inside and outside the field. Furthermore, it will argue that contentious issues should not be avoided, as this is in danger of being seen as an evasion of curatorial responsibility, and that it is incomparable with the attempted transformation of museums into public forums. In addition, a study of the exhibition You won't feel a thing: Needles in medical history at the Wellcome Trust will ask whether it offers a 'blueprint' for other museums to follow, as the team responsible has tackled contentious issues in the past.

Museums and retail activity: A comparative case study of retail activities in Greece and the UK
A. Papanicolau

No abstract available

The Indian collections in Britain with particular reference to ancient art held in the national museums: Their formation and their relevance to general and Indo-British audiences
Maria de Pascale

An attempt has been made in this study to follow the 'social life' of the Indian objects collected by the British (mainly during the colonial era), ending up in British collections and museums. The way this art has been gradually accepted into the larger Western art discourse on the one hand reflects the changes that have happened in society and on the other has much to do with cultural fashions that have dominated the West in the last three centuries. The difficulties arising in displaying and interpreting this art in a meaningful way (both for general audiences and those of South Asian origins) stem from the paradox of its having been (partly) accepted into the Western art discourse, and the need to take into account its nature of a religious art originally intended for popular fruition.

The period room: An historical evaluation
Sonia Rasberry

This study is concerned with examining the historical development of the period room by giving a brief historical outline of this process from its origins in the nineteenth century to the present, the aim being to establish whether it remains a valid means of display and interpretation for the museum in the 1990s.

Firstly, the origins and influences of the period room are examined, in Europe and America, in particular tracing the influences of key figures in its birth and development; Alexandre Lenoir, Alexandre du Sommerard, Dr. Artur Hazelius, Henry Ford, John D. Rockefeller and Dr J. L Kirk.

To examine how the period room is being used in the 1990s in Britain three case studies are examined: The Irish Room at the Grange in Neasden, a small temporary display put on in collaboration with the local community; The Roman Gallery at the Museum of London, a reconstruction included in the exhibition on Roman Britain and The 'Lifetimes' Gallery at the Clocktower in Croydon, a exhibition of six tableaux with a period room recreations in each.

The question of authenticity is addressed as it is a central problem that every museums faces and therefore that the period room has to take into consideration.

Finally, the question is asked whether museums have adapted the period room as a method of interpretation for the 1990s or has it become a historical novelty that is no longer relevant. This is reviewed by examining the historical developments and the evidence gained from the three case studies.

The curator/conservator relationship: The erosion of the curatorial monopoly, and the dynamics of collaboration between museum professional
Naomi Rumball

This dissertation aims to provide an overview of developments in the museums profession. It outlines problems raised by the polemic in perceived roles of curatorial and conservation staff, and their conflict of interest. In the collaborative culture, which highlights partnerships and national and international ventures in working to a common goal, it aims to analyse how effective these programmes are at overcoming traditional boundaries between these disciplines within and between institutions.

Four case studies centred in the UK (but with some international element) are provided to highlight themes of collaboration between curatorial and conservation staff.

"The Poisoned Well of History": An examination of the role of Holocaust Museums in Britain
Carol Seigel

This dissertation looks at the representation of the Holocaust within museums, and explores whether there is any special relevance for British museums which tackle this subject.

The enormous worldwide interest in the Holocaust is discussed, and the implications for museums undertaking exhibitions in this sensitive and controversial area.

Four British organisations and their approach to Holocaust exhibits are examined in detail. The subject is so complex that different approaches may be complementary and equally valid.

Collecting in the pre-museum era: A study in motivation
Fiona Simpson

The aim of this dissertation was to investigate the motivations for collecting in the pre-museum age, which in this case was dated up to the establishment of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, in 1662. The pre-museum period was chosen because, in more modern times, we tend to associate collecting either with the educational or conservation role of a museum or with personal interest. Although these motives were not absent in earlier times, they were accompanied and often overshadowed by others which have largely vanished today. A direct comparison between the pre-museum and museum eras was not attempted, owing to the sheer volume of material. The first chapter of the dissertation concentrates on the notion that objects have values and powers which motivate collecting because they can be used to enhance the status, wealth and power of the collector. The second chapter looks at altruistic motives, where public and religious benefaction are evident. The third chapter discusses personal interest, madness and passion as motivating forces. The dissertation concludes that all three groups of factors can motivate collecting, and that they are often inter-linked and hard to separate. However, one element that appears to be present in all circumstances is the achievement or display of personal power.

The first chapter of the dissertation concentrates on the notion that objects have values and powers which motivate collecting because they can be used to enhance the status, wealth and power of the collector. The second chapter looks at altruistic motives, where public and religious benefaction are evident. The third chapter discusses personal interest, madness, and passion as motivating forces.

The dissertation concludes that all three groups of factors can motivate collecting, and that they are often inter-linked and hard to separate. However, one element that appears to be present in all circumstances is the achievement or display of personal power.

Michel Foucault: An analysis of cultural discourse
Anthony Spira

This dissertation will take the following three books by Michel Foucault as its basis: The Order of Things, The Archaeology of Knowledge and Language, Counter-Memory, Practice. I will explore and attempt to describe Foucault's analytical methods as explained in these books. Foucault's archaeological analogy and the tools available through his epistemic frameworks will then be applied in order to examine discursive practice in the Renaissance, Classical and modem times. The reciprocal relationship between knowledge and discourse will be examined through contemporary examples of representation and display.

Eileen Hooper-Greenhill's Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge will be used throughout in order to compare and contrast a variety of analyses and ideas. Her evaluation of the Renaissance will be explored, contradicted and supplemented in some ways and the seeds of a modem discourse will emerge in the absence of her analysis of the subject. Nevertheless, her use of various models is indispensable and forms an additional framework within which to contemplate the role of culture and its institutions.

The ability to formulate different narratives from those postulated by Hooper Greenhill will be shown to shed some light on Foucault's intentions as well as on the value of his method of analysis. Emphasis will be removed from the actual narratives and placed on the dramatic ruptures which reflect how brittle epistemologies may be.

The operation of small museums in the UK
Ekaterini Stathopoulou

The topic of this dissertation concerns the operation of small museums in the UK. Such institutions employ a maximum of five paid staff members working either full- or part-time. The research and final conclusions concern museums registered with the Museums and Galleries Commission's (MGC)Registration scheme.

Two case studies have been used to illustrate two different attitudes adopted by two small London museums. The Ragged School Museum, established by 'laymen' at a remote area of London, has adopted a dynamic approach to its problems. The Wesley's Museum, owned and governed by a prestigious organisation and located in the heart of the City, has not yet found solutions to many of its problems. It has well-written policies and a strong structure but it lacks enthusiasm and adaptability.

All small museums face difficulties but opportunities and professional advice are now available for them. A small institution should exploit any offered support in order to secure its operation and development.

Collections information in the public arena: A case study between a local and national museum
Charlotte Elizabeth Stone

This dissertation is a discursive study on the need to move collections information from the internal to the external. In it I examine the issues which surround the process and assess whether there is a demand for such data from the user. I have chosen to study this in the context of two museums, a national one, The Science Museum and a local one, Reading Museum. These were chosen as examples of practice, because both have the potential assets to explore the idea of information access and each have began discussing methods to carry out such a project. Chapter one examines the changes in documentation practice, which have given rise to the opportunity of externalising the museum's information core. The second deals with the change in managerial structure, which has attempted to re-define many roles in order to create a more accessible and well-run service. Chapter Three reviews some of the initiatives, (both actual and potential) set up both museums and discusses how far reaching these attempts are. My conclusion summarises the need for public collections information both as a transfer of power from the visitor to the curator and as a reaction to the demand from this new age.

Exemplifications of learning theories in museums with reference to the theories of George Hein
Vasiliki Tzibazi

As we enter the twenty-first century the greatest challenge facing museums is to perform their role as learning institutions effectively. The increased leisure industry, the reduction in core governmental funding and the introduction of the National Curriculum are some of the factors that stressed the necessity for museums to enhance the range and the quality of their educational provision.

The first chapter attempts to describe how learning theories provide an appropriate framework for museum professionals to define learning in the museum environment and consequently to develop exhibitions and educational programs that correspond to the audiences learning needs. Modern developments in museum educational departments indicate to what extent museum professional are aware of museums role as learning centres. Museum education policies and visitor studies research are of crucial importance for museums ' educational developments.

The second chapter deals more specifically with G. Hem's theories and focuses particularly on his suggested four educational approaches: a) didactic, expository education, b) stimulus-response education, c) discovery learning, d) constructivism that derive from the juxtaposition of two continua which the first one classifies the epistemological and the second the learning theories on two extremes.

In the third chapter exhibitions are described that each of them represent one type of Hem's educational theories. The galleries and exhibitions selected to show that Hem's educational theories can be put into practice in the museum field are the Origin of Species exhibition of the Natural History Museum, the Challenge of Materials exhibition and the Launch Pad gallery at the Science Museum as also the Museum's of London Prehistoric Gallery. Where it was considered necessary the study focuses specifically on one or more exhibits to show more extensively the educational theory's application. The study took place during the last two weeks of August 1998.

A review of museum enquiry services offered to the public with special reference to identifications and including a survey of past users of a county museums service
Jean Vacher

Enquiries have been a neglected area of museum studies. Any published literature on this subject, moreover, dates back to the mid 1980s, or earlier. Yet the introduction of information technology has brought about enormous changes in museums. Databases, for example, not only benefit the area of collections management, but are now being used in large national museums to enable the visiting public to answer their own enquiries whilst on a visit. Such enquiries may relate to the displays or to how the visitor finds his or her way around a museum. Remote forms of communication such as the Internet and World Wide Web (WWW) have made it possible for a member of the public in any part of the world to satisfy an enquiry by accessing a museum's web pages or to log an enquiry at any time using e-mail. This paper will examine some of these new developments The main emphasis concerning enquiries however, will centre on the identification services offered by museums. The literature written on this subject will be reviewed and some current practices examined.

Identification services are time-consuming and viewed by some museum staff as a chore. However, in today's climate of public accountability, there is an onus on museums to examine their practices and invite the public to comment upon them. The final chapter in this paper will examine Hampshire Museums Service's identification service, and report the views of some of the subject specialists involved. The results of a survey based on past users of Hampshire Museums Service's identification will be analysed to evaluate how well the service is performing. Finally, Reading Museums Service's identification service will be discussed as a parallel to Hampshire Museums Services.

Fogotten children?...Are museums doing enough for children with special educational needs?
J. Verrall

No abstract available

A museological approach to the interpretation of historic ships
T. Wareham

No abstract available

Museum Design
Alan Whitney

The aim of this report is to examine the various aspects of museum design and to try to illustrate what changes have occurred over the past three decades. This has been done using observations made in various galleries in London and elsewhere.

The emphasis is on the semiotic and social aspects of design rather than the practical aspects of actually creating a display.

The report shows that subtle changes have occurred, most notably as regards the influence of external designers and commercial design practices in modern museum displays. Other changes noted relate to the increase of commercial sponsorship in museums and the impact of increased competition from other leisure activities. As well as the demands from visitors and the National Curriculum for more accessible and interactive displays in exhibitions.

The report attempts to identify changes that have occurred as regards the use of aesthetic design motifs that can be seen as the products of contemporary fashion and illustrate how these effect the visitors understanding of and attitude towards the display.

In conclusion it is noted that changes have occurred and these are often due to forces from outside the museum. Consideration is also given to how design might progress in the future.


The methods, techniques, and conclusions found in individual papers are the work and responsibility of the author of the paper, and should in no way be thought to represent the opinion or endorsement of either the Journal of Conservation & Museum Studies, the Institute of Archaeology, or University College London. No liability or contract is accepted or implied by the publication of these data.


Copyright © Institute of Archaeology, University College London 1999. All rights reserved.