This vibrant new collection edited by Viviane Gosselin and Phaedra Livingstone explores the central role of museums as memory keepers and makers.
The idea of historical consciousness – how our conception of the past shapes our sense of the present and of the future – is of growing importance for cultural institutions in North America. In the collections they assemble and the exhibitions they create, museums reinvent and reconstruct our understanding of past events. Using case studies and observations from a Canadian context, Museums and the Past considers how the modern museum fosters public perceptions of history.
Bridging contemporary discussions on the relationship between historical consciousness and museum practice, the contributors reflect on the challenges, controversies, and changing technologies used in maintaining and developing museums and heritage sites as meaningful places of memory and learning. The result is an engaging and dynamic range of new perspectives on the modern museum’s narrative and pedagogical responsibilities as well as on how Canadian museums continue to shape the way we make sense of the past and of ourselves. The book contributes to the ongoing dialogue about the function of public museums in civil society in Canada and elsewhere.
This book will appeal to students and scholars of museum studies and Canadian history. It will also appeal to history educators and those with an interest in the history and policies of public cultural institutions.
Viviane Gosselin and Phaedra Livingstone have created, for the first time ever, a book that looks at the relationship between museums and the concept of historical consciousness. In doing so, they are pioneering both museological and historical literature, and greatly contributing to an under-researched field.
This well-curated collection of essays broadens our understanding of the theory of historical consciousness and the role museums can play in engaging, and challenging, collective memory.
Viviane Gosselin is curator of contemporary culture at the Museum of Vancouver and associate researcher at the UBC Centre for the Study of Historical Consciousness.
Phaedra Livingstone is a museologist who has worked in, taught about, and conducted research on museums and heritage settings internationally since 1990.
Contributors: Susan Ashley, Jill Baird, Jennifer Carter, Pierre-Luc Collin, Claire Cousson, Lucie Daignault, Lon Dubinsky, Damara Jacobs-Morris, Robert R. Janes, Simon Knell, Marie-Claude Larouche, Lianne McTavish, Del Muise, Laurajane Smith, and Brenda Trofanenko
1 Introduction: Perspectives on Museums and Historical Consciousness in Canada / Viviane Gosselin and Phaedra Livingstone
Part 1: Programming Historical Consciousness
2 The Royal Ontario Museum, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and Critical Public Engagement / Susan Ashley
3 The Voices of the Canoe Project: Weaving Together Indigenous and Western Historical Knowledge Traditions / Jill Baird and Damara Jacobs-Morris
4 The Torrington Gopher Hole Museum: A Model Institution / Lianne McTavish
5 Public Pedagogy and the Museum: The Canadian Museum of Immigration at 21, for Example / Brenda Trofanenko
Part 2: Measuring Historical Consciousness
6 Changing Views? Emotional Intelligence, Registers of Engagement, and the Museum Visit / Laurajane Smith
7 Using Museum Resources and Mobile Technologies to Develop Teens’ Historical Thinking: Formative Evaluation of an Innovative Educational Set-up / Marie-Claude Larouche
8 Museums as In-Between Institutions: Can They Be Trusted? / Lon Dubinsky and Del Muise
9 The Concept of Historical Consciousness Applied to Museums: A Case Study of the Exhibition People of Québec ... Then and Now / Pierre-Luc Collin, Claire Cousson, and Lucie Daignault
Part 3: Instrumentalizing Historical Consciousness
10 Controversy as Catalyst: Administrative Framing, Public Perception, and the Late-Twentieth-Century Exhibitionary Complex in Canada / Phaedra Livingstone
11 The Gift of Historical Consciousness: Museums, Art, and Poverty / Simon Knell
12 Museums and the Responsibility Gap / Robert R. Janes
13 Out of the Box and Into the Fold: Museums, Human Rights, and Changing Pedagogical Practices / Jennifer Carter
14 Epilogue: The Blossoming of Canadian Museology and Historical Consciousness / Phaedra Livingstone and Viviane Gosselin
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