Wednesdays 1:25-3:55 email@example.com
Students in this course will use their research and writing skills to develop exhibits, tours, and public programming in museums and historic sites. The first half of the course will introduce some of the issues involved in working with objects and landscapes; the second half will consist of field projects in which students help develop an interpretive program or exhibit at a nearby historical institution.
Books on Reserve at the Du Bois Library and available for purchase at Amherst Books, 8 Main Street, Amherst
G. Anderson, ed. Reinventing the Museum
N. Simon, The Participatory Museum (also available on line)
J. Diamond, Practical Evaluation Guide: Tools for Museums and Other Informal Educational Settings
B. Serrell, Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach
B. Levy, S. Lloyd, S. Schreiber, Great Tours! Thematic Tours and Guide Training for Historic Sites Additional readings will be available on the Moodle site. Useful journals this semester, in addition to the conventional historical ones, include
Museum 2.0 Blog
Visitor Studies (e-journal)
Museum News (AM1 .A55 complete run at MHC & Forbes Library, Northampton)
History News (E172. A533)
Curator (QH70 .C8)
Winterthur Portfolio (N9. W52)
Public Historian (HN1 .P8)
Journal of American History (for exhibit reviews)
Technology and Culture (T1. T27)
Museum and Society (ejournal)
Field Projects: Students will be working in teams of two or three, developing an interpretive project for a nearby historical institution. By the second week of class, you will be asked to rank your preference among the projects below:
1) The Samuel Harrison House, Pittsfield, MA
This summer the home of Samuel Harrison, a prominent African American who lived in Pittsfield in the 19th century, will open to the public after an extensive restoration. Last fall a team of UMass Public History students met with the Samuel Harrison Society to propose an interpretive plan for the house, and this spring a team will implement one of the recommendations, most likely an exhibit on Harrison’s civil rights activism for one of the rooms on the first floor. It is possible that a second team this semester will work on implementing another aspect of the interpretive plan.
2) Disability History Project, Whitensville, MA
The UMass Public History Program has proposed to Alternatives Unlimited, an agency serving people with disabilities throughout central Massachusetts, a multi-faceted history project for their headquarters in a restored 1820s mill in Whitenville, MA. If the project is a go, a team of students will begin research that integrates the history of the mill with the history of people with disabilities in town to produce a Resource Study that will be the basis for future interpretive products such as a video, museum exhibit, and walking tour. Alternatively, the team might produce a temporary exhibit of a more general nature on the history of veterans and disability using on-line resources of the Disability History Museum (www.disabilitymuseum.org)
3) Springfield Armory National Historic Site, Springfield, MA
The Springfield Armory has approached the Public History Program in anticipation of launching a total make-over of interpretation at the site. Developing such a comprehensive interpretive plan is beyond the scope of what a team of 2-3 students can accomplish in a semester, but we hope to do this in a future project that would engage an entire class. Just last week, the Armory announced that it would be hosting a temporary exhibit developed in Britain on illegal firearms and gun control, and it might be possible for a team of students this semester to work on local public programming to accompany the exhibit (we will find out more about this before committing students to it).
4) Historic Deerfield, Deerfield: “Biographies in Space” (need to retitle this!)
Historic Deerfield would like to develop tour materials that would follow several individual lives through the spaces in town where they lived and worked (and were buried). Still to be determined is how many of these biographies students will do, whether or not one or more of them will be targeted to children, and the particular form that the tour materials will take. Most likely is a pdf document that can be downloaded from the Historic Deerfield website by visitors before they get to town, though a handheld application might also be possible.
5) Historic Deerfield Folk Art Project--TBA
Schedule of Topics/Readings: 1/23: Introduction: What is Interpretation? J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951), pp. 119-22.
R. Hill, “The Indian in the Cabinet of Curiosities,” Native Americas (Winter 1995): 58-61.
USNPS, Fundamentals of Interpretation (2007)
David Larson, ed., Meaningful Interpretation: How to Connect Hearts and Minds to Places, Objects, and Other Resources (2003) See especially “The Interpretive Process Model”
2/6 AT HISTORIC DEERFIELD: The Institutional Setting in Action S. Chamberlain & H. Flynt, “Prologue,” Historic Deerfield, Houses & Interiors (1952), p.1
Historic Deerfield, Inc., “Mission Statements,” 1952 and 1992.
B. Greenfield, “Highboys and High Culture: Adapting an American Aesthetic in Deerfield, MA,” in Out of the Attic: Inventing Antiques in 20th Century New England (2009), pp. 131-66.
2/13 AT JOSEPH SKINNER MUSEUM, SOUTH HADLEY Interpreting Objects and Collections (Aaron Miller, Skinner Museum, South Hadley)
Besides seeing the collection, we will practice analyzing artifacts and writing labels
E. Fleming, "Artifact Analysis,” in T. Schlereth, ed. Material Culture Studies in America.
S. Pearce, “Museum Objects,” I. Hodder, “Contextual Analysis of Symbolic Meanings,” S. Pearce, “Objects as Meaning,” and S. Pearce, “Thinking About Things,” in S. Pearce, ed. Interpreting Objects and Collections, pp. 9-12, 19-29, 125-32. (available on line)
S. Paris and M. Mercer, “Finding Self in Objects: Identity Exploration in Museums,” in Learning Conversations in Museums, ed. G. Leinhardt, K. Crowley, K. Knutson (2002), pp. 401-23.
J. Windsor, “Identity Parades,” in J. Elsner & R. Cardinal, eds. The Cultures of Collecting (1994), pp. 49-67
A. Martin & J. Garrison, “Shaping the Field: The Multidisciplinary Perspectives of Material Culture,” in Martin and Garrison, eds. American Material Culture: The Shape of the Field (1997), pp. 1-20.
M. Csikszentmihalyi & E. Rochberg Halton, "What Things are For," and "The Most Cherished Objects in the Home," in The Meaning of Things, pp. 20 89.
T. Gordon, Private History in Public: Exhibition and the Settings of Everyday Life
B. Carson & C. Carson, "Things Unspoken: Learning Social History From Artifacts," in J. Gardner & G. Adams, ed. Ordinary People and Everyday Life (1983), pp. 181 203.
K. Moore, “Stones Can Speak and Objects Sing,” in Moore, Museums and Popular Culture (1997), pp. 52-72.
J. Prown, "Style as Evidence," Winterthur Portfolio (1980): 197 210.
P. Zimmerman, "Workmanship as Evidence," Winterthur Portfolio (1981), pp. 283 307.
D. Washburn, “Doll Play and Real Life in American Culture, 1900-1980,” in American Material Culture: The Shape of the Field ed. A. Martin & J.Garrison (1997), pp. 105-34.
J. Baudrillard, “The Systems of Collecting ” and J. Windsor, “Identity Parades,” in J. Elsner & R. Cardinal, eds. The Cultures of Collecting (1994), pp. 7-24, 49-67.
B. Danet & T. Katriel, “No Two Alike: Play and Aesthetics in Collecting,” R. Belk & M. Wallendorf, “Of Mice and Men: Gender and Identity in Collecting,” and R. Belk, “Collectors and Collecting,” in S. Pearce, ed. Interpreting Objects and Collections, pp. 220-53, 317-26
2/20 Visitor Studies and Evaluation J. Diamond, Practical Evaluation Guide: Tools for Museums and Other Informal Educational Settings
G. Anderson, Reinventing the Museum, ch. 25-26.
J. Falk & L. Dierking, Learning From Museums: Visitor Experiences and the Making of Meaning (2000)
R. Korn, “Visitor Studies and History,” Mosaic: Newsletter of the Center on History-Making in America 1 (Spring/Summer 1992): 10-11.
V. Beer, "Great Expectations: Do Museums Know What Visitors are Doing?" Curator 30 (1987): 206 15.
D.G. Hayward & A. Jensen, “Enhancing a Sense of the Past: Perception of Visitors and Interpreters,” The Interpreter 12 (October 1981): 4-12.
D.G. Hayward & J.W. Larkin, "Evaluating Visitor Experiences and Exhibit Effectiveness at Old Sturbridge Village," Museum Studies Journal 1 (Fall 1983): 42 51.
C. Perrin, “The Communicative Circle: Museums as Communities,” in Museums andCommunities, pp. 182-220.
P. McManus, "Oh, Yes, They Do: How Museum Visitors Read Labels and Interact With Exhibit Texts," Curator 32 (1989): 174 89.
N. Merriman, “Museum Visiting as a Cultural Phenomenon,” in P. Vergo, ed. The New Museology, pp. 149-171.
B. Serrell, Exhibit Labels: An Interpretive Approach
G. Anderson, Reinventing the Museum, ch.
J. Tchen, “Creating a Dialogic Museum: The Chinatown History Museum Experiment,” in I. Karp, et al, eds. Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture, pp. 285-326.
B. Smith, “A Woman’s Audience: A Case Study of Applied Feminist Theories,” in A. Levin, ed. Gender, Sexuality, and Museums (2010), pp. 65-70.
K. Ames, B. Branco, L.T. Frye, eds. Ideas and Images: Developing Interpretive HistoryExhibits (1992)
R. Rosenzweig & W. Leon, eds. History Museums in the U.S. (1989)
M. Ettema, "History Museums and the Culture of Materialism," and W. Leon, "A Broader Vision: Exhibits That Change the Way Visitors Look at the Past," in J. Blatti, Past Meets Present (1990), pp. 62 85, 133 52.
S. Lubar, “Exhibiting Memories,” in A. Henderson & A. Kaeppler, eds. Exhibiting Dilemmas:Issues of Representation at the Smithsonian (1997), pp. 15-27.
S. Greenblatt, "Resonance and Wonder," in I. Karp & S. Lavine, eds., Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display (1991), pp. 42-56.
3/6: Using Interpretive Media: Tours, Markers, and the Power of Place (Cynthia Dickinson, Emily Dickinson Museum)
Dickinson Museum Visitor Studies Assignment due today B. Levy, S. Lloyd, S. Schreiber, Great Tours! Thematic Tours and Guide Training for Historic Sites
P. Longsworth & G. Farmer, “When Love First Began: The Private World of the Evergreens, Amherst, Massachusetts,” Nineteenth Century (Spring 2001)
J. Donnelly, Interpreting Historic House Museums
M. Potteiger & J. Purinton, “Openings,” in Landscape Narratives: Design Practices for Telling Stories (1998)
D. Hayden, The Power of Place: Urban Landscapes as Public History (1995)
L. Lippard, “Sniper’s Nest: Anti-Amnesia,” Z Magazine 5 (December 1992): 63-6.
P. Potter & M. Leone, “Establishing the Roots of Historical Consciousness in Annapolis,” in Museums and Communities, pp. 476-505.
G. Dubrow, “Claiming Public Space for Women’s History in Boston: A Proposal for Preservation, Public Art, and Public Historical Interpretation,” Frontiers 13 (1992): 111-48.
M. Bowman, “Performing Southern History for the Tourist Gaze: Antebellum Home Tour Guide Performances,” in Exceptional Spaces: Essays in Performance and History ed. D. Pollock (1998), p. 142-58.
3/13 Using Interpretive Media: Social Media and Visitor Engagement N. Simon, The Participatory Museum (2010)
L. Tallon & K. Walker, eds. Digital Technologies and the Museum Experience (2008)
3/20 SPRING BREAK
3/27 Using Interpretive Media: Audio, Video, and Object Theater (Steve Bressler, Monadnock Media)
Analysis of substantial audiovisual installation somewhere
Week of 4/1 Museum Education: Interpreting History for Children R. Vukelich, “Time Language for Interpreting History Collections to Children,” Museum Studies Journal (Fall 1984): 43-50.
C. Robinson & W. Leon, “A Priority on Process: The Indianapolis Children’s Museum and ‘Mysteries in History’,” in K. Ames, B. Branco, L.T. Frye, eds. Ideas and Images: Developing Interpretive HistoryExhibits
E. Rosenthal, J. Blankman-Hetrick, “Conversations Across Time: Family Learning in a Living History Museum, “ in Learning Conversations in Museums, ed. G. Leinhardt, K. Crowley, K. Knutson (2002), pp. 305-29.
4/10: Using Interpretive Media: Demonstrations, Performance, and Living History K. Chavez, “Site-Specific Performance at Historic Sites: Resources, Bibliography, and Examples,” (John Nicholas Brown Center, 2005)
B. Kirschenblatt-Gimblett, “Plimoth Plantation,” in Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Hertitage (1998), pp. 189-200.
R. Handler & E. Gable, The New History in an Old Museum: Creating the Past at Colonial Williamsburg
C. Carson, Lost in the Fun House: A Commentary on Anthropologists First Contact with History Museums,” Journal of American History 81 (1994): 137-50. (JSTOR)
“Colonial Williamsburg: Planning and Public History,” special issue of The Public Historian 20 (Summer 1998): 5-105. (JSTOR)
B. Goodacre & G. Baldwin, “The Visitors,” and “The Interpreters,” in Living in the Past: Reconstruction, Recreation, Reenactment, and Education at Museums and Historic Sites (2002), pp. 91-136.
W. Leon & M. Piatt, "Living History," in History Museums in the U.S., pp. 64 97.
D. MacCannell, “Staged Authenticity: Arrangements of Social Space in Tourist Settings,” American Journal of Sociology 79 (November 1973): 589-603.
R. Ronsheim, "Is the Past Dead?" Museum News 53 (November 1974): 16 18, 62.
J. Anderson, "Living History," American Quarterly 34 (1982): 290 306, or Anderson, Time Machines: The World of Living History (1984)
B. West, “The Making of the English Working Past,” in R. Lumley, ed. The Museum Time Machine: Putting Cultures on Display, pp. 36-62.
4/17: No class: UMass on Wednesday schedule Work on final projects
4/24 Managing the Museum M. Schwarzer, “Women in the Temple: Gender and Leadership in Museums” in A. Levin, ed. Gender, Sexuality, and Museums (2010), pp. 65-70.
G. Anderson, Reinventing the Museum, ch. 37-44.
5/1: Course overview: Lessons from the Field
Assignment: Come to class with a list of “10 best practices” in interpretation, with enough copies to distribute.
Friday 5/3: Women’s History Conference in Honor of Joyce Berkman
Week of 5/6: Final project presentations to department and invited guests, with final reflection papers due May 9 (10-15 pages, relating what you learned in your field project experience to scholarly literature on museum and historic site interpretation)
MONDAY 6/3: "Listen my children and you shall hear": Balancing History and Myth in Massachusetts Public History' 2013 Massachusetts History Conference, Hogan Conference Center, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA