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Relationship Between Museum Educators and Museum Curators

Clarity of presentation is of high importance, although Serrell (1996) cautions that communication in museums through labels and wall text tends to be top-down, curator-to-visitor in nature. Rice (1992) calls for using the museum as the basis for developing visual literacy, which she believes can foster cultural and aesthetic literacy. Duncan (1995) characterizes museums as mechanisms for governing the tenor of civil life, an action accomplished through the creation of narratives that are meant to enhance understanding of the world (Roberts, 1997).

The expanded role of education in museums has not necessarily been an unmixed blessing. That is because the content of education, i.e., interpretation, can be controversial. The issue of museums as venues of public history and the methods that museum historians use (or fail to use) to engage the cognitive learning functions of museum visitors is a key theme of an academic historian's critique of revisionist interpretations of two controversial Smithsonian exhibitions, one on the Wild West and one on the Enola Gay exhibit (Woods, 1995). The former, which interpreted the winning of the West in negative terms, failed with the public, and (as will be seen hereafter) the latter became so controversial that it never mounted. Woods criticizes the "curatorial approach . . . too focused on an academic model and on what the curators wanted to say." Instead of relying solely on academic historians, says Woods, museum personnel should have formed working partnerships with "affected groups" with a stake in seeing dissenting views as well as cultural/folk memory articulated: "Rather than struggling to remake museums in the image of the academy, we should think about ways to combine the strengths of the history profession in the museum and the academy" (Woods, 1995, p. 1117). Hood (1994) discusses the need for curators to use selection, design, text, and other display materials creatively so as to commun...

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Relationship Between Museum Educators and Museum Curators. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:34, July 20, 2017, from
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