Het museum op de snijtafel: de archeologietentoonstelling onderzocht


  • Bastiaan Steffens



The Anatomy of the Museum: researching the archaeological exhibition. Archaeology exhibitions tend to follow a formulaic layout. They are mostly chronologically ordered and describe long-lasting historical processes. This article aims to dissect the archaeology museum in order to study the techniques used to create these narratives separately from each other. It is argued that the architecture of the old, monumental museum buildings was designed with specific purposes in mind that coincided with how archaeology was conceived in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Moreover, the way information is employed throughout exhibitions favours long-term histories over short-term object biographies. The end result is that archaeology exhibitions are often descriptive in nature rather than explanatory. Here it is argued that this is not in line with how academic archaeology is currently practiced. And that we need to adopt a perspective that approaches history as an active process of becoming, so that links between past and present can be clearly presented in a museum context. Such exhibitions have the ability to explain not only the past, but also our present situation, and perhaps even to act as a call to action to change this situation