Our intrepid Field School Manager shares news and views from the trowel’s edge…
“Lots of changes this week! I’ve left MoLA to concentrate on DigVentures and filming for the upcoming 20th series of Time Team – we start next week! I can’t believe it’s come around again so soon…
On Monday morning – my first official full day for DV – I was invited to join in a seminar held at Peterborough University with their archaeology students. I thought to myself: what a great opportunity – I like to know what’s going on, what people really think about (especially students), and hot topics in heritage. I certainly was not disappointed!
The Peterborough students had some very strong opinions about crowdfunded and crowdsourced archaeology. Interestingly, the words ‘heritage tourism’ and ‘ownership’ were top on the list for debate. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve met such passionate, lively, and thought-provoking students. What was evident during our discussions was that there is no solution to the future and sustainability of archaeology, but it is the ideas of individuals, and the work of groups and organisations that strive together to make things better, which really matter. We should also remember, however, to challenge the norms and boundaries of our work. Sometimes you need to stick your head above the parapet, take in a deep breath and look around – you can’t always be bogged down looking at the mud you’re trowelling.
After the seminar, I visited Peterborough Museum, which will be officially re-opening at 12:00 this Saturday, 31 March 2012. I managed to get a sneaky preview courtesy of Sarah Stannage, Head of Heritage for Vivacity (the charity that manages Peterborough’s culture and leisure facilities). The building itself is of Tudor origin, but has a Georgian feel inside. The refurbishment is well-executed, and really reminds me of other City Museums such as Leeds. It also transported me back to my childhood, back to the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery where I spent my formative years – which in turn moulded my love of anything old and ancient.
An archaeologist said to me this week that they hated nostalgia in social historical writing – but I totally disagree. I believe that it is our own personal reactions to buildings, art and culture that enable us to have a real connection with the world around us. The Peterborough museum collections are a menagerie of the weird and wonderful: mammoths, stuffed birds, a Victorian operating theatre, a scary mannequin dressed as a monk, fossils and the wonderful Norman Cross collection. This is what local and city museums should be. Provoking the thoughts and minds of visitors should be celebrated. Long may local museums live, and long may they leave an indelible impression on the people that walk through their doors.”
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