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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/pqgn-9003

technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

In Pursuit of Authenticity in Historic Houses


art and material culture



Often, large museums are sites for the expected performances of truths: the truth of a national identity, of a coherent historical arc, of an aestheticized taste•many of these sites are expected to show us the “really real” and bind it to authoritative stories and delivery. In contrast, this panel explores the performative truths of smaller museums. While the majority of the museums in the world are small institutions, the majority of critical literature on museums focuses on large institutions, often in their connections to the functions of the nation-state and the formation and affirmation of national citizenship. We wish to diversify the voices of critical museum engagement by focusing on the performative truths of small museums with their (often) more vernacular collections and truth claims. Often limited in resources and scope, small museums allow us to think carefully about the responsibility museums have in their connections to their surrounding communities, what kind of epistemologies and truths are small museums converging on and circulating, and how do such institutions respond to changes in narratives of the human and non-human past, present and the future? In consideration of recent world-changing events•the necessary shutting down of non-essential businesses, including large museums, in the wake of COVID-19•this panel also raises the question: in times of enormous economic and social upheaval, are small museums more resilient and better positioned in times of “new truths” than their larger kin?


Transcript English (automatic)

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