A historic house is one of the few museum sites where the transportation back to the past is presented unproblematic and without questions. It is preserved as it was and in that way is a testimony to its own identity as an artefact from the past. New museology has hit the general museum world and posed questions about presentation, authenticity and the role of the audience, but what has happened to the historic house seem to have escaped these critical questions.
Kieran Burns is in his PhD looking at historic houses or homes in Ireland and trying to incorporate a critical approach. He does not see the audiences as empty vessels, but instead people that project their own ideas of history onto the historic sites when focusing on what stories historic houses tell and how.
The one idea that I found really interesting is Kieran’s idea about the perceiving at the house as a concept of home. A home is a shared idea across cultures and everyone can relate to what a home is. In this way he is not just dealing with big estate homes, but also with smaller scale history with homes of working class families or buildings converted to provide refugees with a home.
How do the audience relate to these different concepts of home? How do they perform their own identity in relation to the way they experience the historic home?
The Attic (a name which commemorates our first physical location) is, first and foremost, a site for the research students of the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester: a virtual community which aims to include all students, be they campus-based and full-time, or distance-learning and overseas. But we welcome contributions from students of museum studies - and allied subject areas - from outside the School and from around the world. Here you will find a lot of serious stuff, like exhibition and research seminar reviews, conference alerts and calls for papers, but there's also some 'fluff'; the things that inspire, distract and keep us going. After all, while we may be dead serious academic types, we're human too.