Curating ancient Peru: Engaging with the past through museum exhibitions

Pardo, Cecilia (2024) Curating ancient Peru: Engaging with the past through museum exhibitions. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This PhD explores the nature, process and impact of six museum exhibitions and their relevant edited volumes. I analyse how material culture from ancient Peru was collected, studied and displayed in the context of the exhibitions and consider the realities of the country where they were carried out. My principal argument is that they pioneered new, engaging experiences with the past. This was achieved by developing unique narratives in innovative displays, bringing together updated scientific research and multidisciplinary collaborations from renowned scholars.

I developed these projects over ten years as curator at the Art Museum of Lima (hereafter, MALI), one of Peru's leading arts and cultural institutions. Despite its vast cultural heritage, Peru has been marked by a significant breach between archaeology and education, limited resources for disseminating culture, a minimal history of exhibitions dedicated to the critical interpretation and display of this past, and a general lack of professionalisation in museology. These factors have led to distant and sometimes outdated access to the past.

This PhD submission consists of a dossier of six edited exhibition catalogues, my articles within those publications, visual material, and a critical analysis of the exhibitions and the published work. The study begins with an introduction to the relationship between the past and the public, including examples of past initiatives and different forms of curation. It then details the Peruvian context, where I developed these projects. I present each case study from the curatorial background to the concept, narrative, and display, highlighting how pre-Columbian collections were formed and arrived in museums, how they are described and how the stories we can create with them might be enriched through different approaches in interpretation and display. The essay details the outcomes of the projects, revealing how they have innovated and widened engagements to experience the past, and finally sets the ground on how these practices can be more inclusive in the future.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 28 May 2024 09:56
Last Modified: 28 May 2024 09:56


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