10-16-2014 Alima Bucciantini
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Date: Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014
Location: Berger Gallery (207 College Hall), Duquesne University
Title: Exhibitions, Identity, and Impact: Assessing the Changing Nation of Scotland and its Museum
Presenter: Dr. Alima Bucciantini, Assistant Professor, Public History, Duquesne University
Abstract: When we walk into a museum of national history, we think that we are seeing truth - the pulled from the past, true facts of what has happened. However, ‘truth' in the museum is the same as historical truth anywhere. It is constructed and manipulated by accidents of fate, societal and political pressure, and aesthetic decision-making by the curator. Each object is placed where it is to tell a very particular story. This manipulation is especially true in nations that are still trying to find their sense of identity, where the narrative of national history can be a potent tool in current political discourse. Scotland, where people just voted about whether to become independent of the United Kingdom, is one of those places. This paper will discuss the museum not as a static space of history displayed, but rather as a space where national identity is performed through ever-changing displays of artifacts. It will also raise questions of how best to assess the impact of those exhibitions on museum viewers and the larger population.
Bio: Dr. Alima Bucciantini is an assistant professor of Public History at Duquesne University. She got a masters degree in Nationalism Studies and a PhD in History and Sociology at the University of Edinburgh. While in Edinburgh she worked as a consultant with the National Museum of Scotland. She also designed exhibitions on medical teaching and architectural history for the University. Her research is concerned with issues of material culture and identity in national museums in Scotland and the US. These issues deal with themes of exhibition design, curatorial intent, the differences in museological practice over time and between countries, and the social and political influences on national cultural institutions. Beyond her current work on Scotland, she also works on the role of objects related to September 11th in American national museums and American memory, and on the role of temporary exhibitions within museum schedules.
All interested faculty, graduate students, and other parties are invited. Refreshments will be served.
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