The Museum of Lies: Incorrect facts or advancing knowledge of ancient Egypt?

Zinn, Katharina (2019) The Museum of Lies: Incorrect facts or advancing knowledge of ancient Egypt? Journal of History and Cultures – Special Issue: Myth and Magic: Interdisciplinary Readings of the Reception of Ancient Egypt. ., 2019 (10). pp. 165-190. ISSN 2051-221X

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The article discusses an unique and innovative project relating to unprovenanced ancient Egyptian objects and how they can have a place in modern culture through the perspective and (re)interpretation by academics (Egyptologists, museum and heritage professionals), students and members of the community. The outlined case-study is situated within a framework of pertinent, contemporary discourse regarding the emotional power of both objects and storytelling, drawing on use of narrative as a means to structure our understanding of the world. The impact of storytelling is used to unlock inherent potential in material culture – the ‘charismatic’ object – in order to forge ‘bonds’ between people and things. The project showcases how museums can reach out to a wider community and encourage their review of objects through storytelling, art and alternative narratives through the ‘Museum of Lies’ as part of an annual pop-up exhibition. This is compared with examples of other storytelling museums across Europe (The Museum of Innocence, Istanbul; Das Lügenmuseum, Radebeul). ‘Lies’ in this instance are understood to be a developmental academic learning tool that inspire the creative imagination and reinforces the (academic) object biography, thereby raising intriguing questions about academic vs emotional truth and the ways in which meaning is negotiated and inevitably influenced by the context in which it is interpreted. This approach is able to influence museological practice (approaches to unprovenanced objects in museums’ collections) and may help to reinvigorate stored collections which otherwise might be in danger to be deaccessioned and disposal precisely due to their perceived lack of storytelling capacity. By questioning ideas of truth, curiosity and the function of museums, this project can also be seen in the current discourse around the ‘museums are not neutral’ movement that aims to challenge the historic notion that the museum is objective and unbiased.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: museum, object, object biography, material culture, Egyptology
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship The Humanities
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D051 Ancient History
D History General and Old World > DT Africa
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
L Education > LF Individual institutions (Europe)
Divisions: Institutes and Academies > Institute of Education and Humanities > Academic Discipline: Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Dr Katharina Zinn
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2020 10:10
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2023 17:29

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