Museum Interpretation

Powerful Essays
Position Paper
Museums provide the public with the inclusive interpretations of objects. The diverse collection of objects in a museum generally consists of a manifold collection of artifacts from around the world. As a result, museums play an important role in the local community by providing the public with educational resources about world culture and heritage. This position paper will discuss the following topics: Museum interpretation, museum collaborations and address the issues in: inclusive museum interpretation, as well as provide specific suggestions as to how museums interpretation can be done collaboratively.
Museum Interpretation As the museum field has become more visitor oriented over recent decades,
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Gray’s work has identified collaboration as an alternative to solving complex issues that could not be addressed through more traditional government avenues (Gray, 1989). This breakthrough lead Gray’s work to become the cornerstone of the ever-growing body of literature on collaboration. Gray’s work has outlined five features that are critical to collaborations: “1. the stakeholders are interdependent, 2. Solutions emerge by dealing constructively with differences, 3. Joint ownership of decisions is involved, 4. Stakeholders assume collective responsibility, 5. Collaboration is an emergent process” (Gray, 1989). Successful collaborations “recognize that the strength of the strategic alliance and its ‘collaborativeness’ is the foundation on which any chance of successfully reaching project goals is predicated” (Gajda, 2004). Collaboration also provides several benefits to addressing issues that individual solutions can not. Working with other organizations allows collaborators to pool resources and skills to address issues more effectively (Cairns & Harris, 2011). By doing so, they can reduce costs (Gray, 1989). Collaboration also builds cohesion in addressing problems and ensures that each stakeholder’s interests are considered. Solutions derived from collaborative efforts not only have greater buy-in from stakeholders, but the solutions may be more novel or innovative (Gray, 1989).…show more content…
NMAI hosts several programs of this nature, some of which have been documented. One particular project contacted a Kwakwaka’wakw artist to come to NMAI and assist in the conservation of a Kwakwaka’wakw mask. The mask is particularly significant because it represents the Kwakwaka’wakw’s first ancestor riding on the back of a sea monster (Edwards, 2015). Sometime after the mask was collected by the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (the precursor to NMAI) the first ancestor figure went missing lost. The artist, Kevin Cranmer, was recommended by two Kwakwaka’wakw community members who had come to NMAI to advise conservators in preparation for an upcoming exhibit. These consultants had selected many of the objects to go on exhibit and they then worked with conservators to show how they worked, how they should be positioned while on exhibit, and collaborated to develop a plan of treatment for the rest of the mask. The artist was provided with a historic photograph which showed the original ancestor figure and measurements in order to create the replacement. After the mask went off exhibit at NMAI it travelled back to the Kwakwaka’wakw U’mista Cultural Center in Alert Bay to be displayed and utilized by the local community (Edwards, 2015). The conservation of a Kwakwaka’wakw mask was an example of co-curated collaboration
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