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Mediating the past: museums and the family social life

Moussouri, T; (2007) Mediating the past: museums and the family social life. In: Helga, L and Galanidou, N, (eds.) Telling Children about the Past. (pp. 242-264). Kluwer Academic Press: Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Abstract

This chapter discusses how family museum visits offer opportunities for both adults and children to engage with archaeology. Museum visits play an important role in the social and cultural life of the family, and meet specific family needs through the use of a variety of resources and media as well as through mediating social behaviours and learning. The Archaeology Resource Centre in York is used as a case study of an archaeology-rich environment where such social interactions and mediation can take place. Using findings from a basic research study, we argue that families visit museums for a wide variety of reasons: to enjoy a day out; to learn; to have fun; to repeat a childhood experience; to visit a destination emblematic of a locality or a region. Moreover, an important motivation for adult family members is to introduce and to help socialize children in the community. On the other hand, children want to share the museum visit experience with their family and follow up their personal interests. Of particular interest is how families construct their identity and the social reality in which family members live through their engagement in archaeology-rich conversations. Family conversations are the means through which both adult and child family members construct and appropriate (new) knowledge. Hence, these social interactions are as important for making meaning during the family museum visit as the interactions between family members and the museum resources are. In archaeology-rich environments in particular, these conversations mediate not only content knowledge related to the objects but also what roles these objects play today as material evidence of the past but also as the focus of the study of archaeologists.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Mediating the past: museums and the family social life
Keywords: archaeology-rich environments, family museum visiting, identity, meaning-making
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/37924
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