Conference article

Museums and the Origins of Nations

Sheila Watson
University of Leicester, UK

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Published in: Great Narratives of the Past Traditions and Revisions in National Museums

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 78:34, p. 545-565

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Published: 2012-10-30


ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


Research into the ways in which museum exhibitions tell stories about the origins of nations suggests that these are; in some ways; dissimilar from many traditional historical and archaeological narrative texts in that they depend; in part; on the physical experience of moving through space. Using case studies this paper pays attention to the way in which this immersive process enables museums to tell contradictory and contrasting stories of the foundation of nations. The notion of the ethnic origins of nations and the way museums re-invent nations over time are examined. Websites and guidebooks are also considered. Representing work in progress this paper suggests other areas of investigation for further study.


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