This paper will require you to visit a museum. In this case, you are going to find a riveting Virtual Museum or Virtual Tour at a museum website. The purpose of your virtual visit is to critically assess how the museum is exhibiting history. Does it tell a balanced story of men and women? Are there biases apparent in the presentation? Do you get information about gender, sex, and sexuality? These are the kinds of questions I would like you to consider and you will find a full list of questions below. You can visit any museum that is of interest to you and it does not have to focus on ancient history.
Papers MUST be 1500 words in length which is approximately 5 pages.
➢ Typed, double-spaced, 12-point font with one-inch margins all around. Please number your pages.
➢ Put your name on your paper and try to give your essay a title that reflects what the paper is about.
➢ Indicate the name of the museum you visited, the name of the specific exhibit if applicable, identify the web address, and the date you made your visit.
➢ Include any pictures or images that you think will help me visualize your visit. Many websites will allow you to copy and paste an image. These may also help you remember what you viewed so you can better support your written analysis.
What geographical or regional area does it present? What is the time period of your exhibit? What is the historical context?
How are “civilizations” or social structures presented in the exhibit? Does the exhibit “assume” anything about your understanding of the presentation? What audience does the exhibit target?
Are ancient or “prehistoric” objects presented differently than more modern objects or artwork? Does the exhibit present a “progress” narrative of development from “primitive” to “civilized”? Does it present any assumed narrative about women, men, marriage, etc.?
How are people represented? How are women viewed? How are men viewed? Is there a specific gender bias that is evident? Is there a specific sexuality bias that is evident?
If you are viewing an art exhibit, are male and female artists represented equally? If you are viewing a science museum, are male and female scholars / scientists represented equally?
From your perspective, is there a “patriarchal” approach to the exhibit? Is there an emphasis on women or men? Are “gender identities” represented or promoted?
Are there artifacts which depict sexual themes? Are there “fertility” objects? How are they presented? Do the museum labels about the object give you specific information?
Does the exhibit include all the information you expect? Or does it leave out pertinent information? Does the museum emphasize some stories while absenting others?
Last but not least, HAVE FUN! The idea behind this assignment is for you to find new resources and be able to explore history and the world right from the comfort of your home. It is always nice to make a physical visit to a museum to get a “hands-on” experience, but in our modern times we can get almost as close with a virtual exhibit or virtual tour. Visiting a museum can allow you to “touch” the past. But, remember, the museum also “touches” back. One anthropologist noted that museums and artifacts “do not simply ‘represent’, ‘symbolise’ or even ’embody’ meaning – they help bring it into being.”2 As you view and interpret the museum exhibits, use your knowledge from this course to inform and / or illuminate your insights about ancient history. What new connections can you make? How can the museum exhibit and environment create – or hide – a body of knowledge?