Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Many archaeological heritage sites in Canada close for the winter season, which, in the case of L'Anse aux Meadows, can span from October to the end of May, resulting in a very limited tourist season. But what can be done to allow visitors access to archaeological sites year round, despite cold winds and snow?
Last week I had the opportunity to visit the many museums of Montreal, including the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History. What was interesting about this particular museum was the presence of an actual archaeological dig in the lowest level of the facility. The foundations of the old buildings dating back 6 centuries can still be seen, as well as Montreal's first Catholic cemetery.
The floor was covered with a metal grate so there was no chance of tripping over lose stones and it provided a path which directed the visitor where to go. One of the things the museum succeeded at was propelling the visitor back in time. In various parts of the exhibition, technology and models were utilized to show what you would be looking at if you were standing in the exact same spot hundreds of years ago. The Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History exposed visitors to an actual archaeological site and gave people an idea of what an excavation could look like; something not a lot of museums can offer.
The one problem I had with the museum was the placing of signage. Sometimes it was too far away or placed far down, with a small font. Many times I found myself straining to figure out the significance of the brick wall at which I was staring. Also, the sound at the interactive stations was very loud and, at times, alarming.
Nevertheless, it was still an enjoyable and unique experience. Obviously building a museum on top of an archaeological site required tremendous foresight and provides many problems, including the need to protect the site during construction and finding the budget to undertake such a large project. But an arrangement like the one found at the Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History can protect an archaeological dig from the elements and be available to visitors year-round, even during cold February days.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Upon hearing this word, many people think:"rich old white men who drank too much," "politics," "war," "economics," and the tedious memorization of "important" dates. For awhile, I also believed that history was about being able to remember the details of important events and the people [mostly men] that made them happened. Then I started studying history at university and I realized that women [!] actually contributed to the past and so did "poor" people.
The study of history could be divided geographically and could focus on the social, political, or economical elements of that nation during a particular time.In undergrad I quickly became interested in British history, especially examining the lives of female monarchs. Recently I became interested in the history of fashion [in related news, I really want to go to New York to check out this exhibit]. Over the holiday break I found a new historical passion: FOOD.
It was an entertaining and educational show. It followed around a team of British historians and archaeologists as they attempted to prepare a Christmas feast in a castle without electricity replicating the Tudor style. The scholars went boar hunting, fishing, kept the fires going, prepared an elaborate peacock dish, spent hours, even days, making pastries and breads, prepared countless meat dishes, arranged the dining hall, and served the guests.
The meal was prepared for a wealthy and prominent Tudor family, so the feast depicted would not be what a typical person of the time would have consumed. However, the three main hosts, acting as servants, made an effort to explain their role and point out any historical discrepancies in what they were doing. For example, some of the ingredients used in the pastries were too expensive to trust with a servant and in many cases, the responsibility of preparing certain dishes which utilized these prized ingredients fell to the lady of the household.
Unfortunately, the audience never got to hear how the food tasted. Personally, I've never feasted upon peacock and I wonder if it tastes like chicken...
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
However, the BBC states that Egyptians museum professionals are willing to negotiate and hopefully reach a compromise with their British counterparts. This is a fairly high profile case and will be closely watched by those governments who are also thinking about making a case for the repatriation of their country's national treasures. The Rosetta Stone could unwillingly set the standard for international repatriation.
And now... I present the inspiration for the title of this post, Hey Rosetta! is an awesome Canadian band... check them out!
*Colonialism plays an important role in the repatriation debate. Many of the artifacts under debate, especially the remains of Native Americans, found in museums in Britain, Canada, and the United States were taken during times of conflict, when a stronger power was trying to dominate the original inhabitants. An example of this in Canada would be when Natives were pushed onto reserves. Many of their burial sites were poorly excavated and the remains of their ancestors were shipped to museums across the world. The fact that most of these museums still have these remains serves as a reminder to the days of colonialism.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I recently read an article that declared iPhones and "apps" the technology of choice for museums, like the Victoria and Albert Museum and art galleries, that are attempting to enhance the exhibit-viewing experience. Visitors can download apps that give tours, provide additional information and interactive 3-D images of various artifacts.
Besides being only available to iPhone owners and having to pay for the application, I think this is a fantastic idea. It allows people to interact with exhibits without having to physically touch the the artifact. An interactive map could ensure that you don't miss any aspects of the museum or gallery. It also cuts back on the use of paper, since many museums still give out maps, which at the end of the day can be found littered all over the museum.
It would be great if this app could help advertise related or upcoming exhibits. For example: if you indicated that you liked one particular artist or themed exhibit, the app could suggest other areas of the museum or institutions that relate to this interest.
People love technology and showing off their latest gadget. Bringing iPhones into museums gives people an excuse to show off their fancy phones, but most importantly, brings audio tours into the 21st century with cool graphics, hopefully capturing the attention and imagination of adults and 6th graders alike.