Monday, December 29, 2014

News: Museums and Underwater Archaeology

Underwater Cultural Heritage evolves in this facet of modern archaeology, in the form in which is exhibited in the specialized museums. The archaeological remains of marine origin require very specific museographic projects, mostly related to the contextualization of the wrecks and their way of being shown to visitors to the museums. The origin of the underwater archaeological treasures must determine the way in which they are exposed and not another.

We believe that they require a teaching Museum scenery very specific and respectful with the form of the find, which push visitors to cross the barrier of our natural terrestrial habitat, to “dive” in the seabed and discover its history well. So far, the museography of the archaeology of marine origin was distinguished by the storage and public exposure of dozens and dozens of amphorae and anchors, dozens of appliances, all surrounded by graphic reproductions of seabed (some truly mediocre) or not even that: storage cabinets and point.

Cristoph Gerigk
All this “scenic decoration” was and is one more than questionable taste. These compositions mimetically generalized Museum itself and Museum also, we must add the absence of environmental conditions appropriate for the conservation of archaeological objects, nearly all of them are elements that have rested in the Middle Marino for hundreds of years or more. The woods are materials which suffer most from the lack of adequate treatment in many museums outdated, being able to observe deterioration. But same thing happens not in all the museums of underwater archaeology.

These outdated museographies were gradually evolved over time. Those who laboured to repeatedly describe with the use of dull panels in the majority of cases, what were the boats and their trade routes, the world of sailing and its cargo, would change in parallel to the consolidation of the science of scientific underwater archaeology. This evolution is not only characterized by the development and application of a methodology itself and updated, but considering that the historical value not focused exclusively on casual discovery or the value of the object, but not could detach from the context of archaeological work. The archaeological site is a moment in time and should be displayed as well.

In addition, the development of new technologies applied to the didactic Museum, has provided professionals make a huge qualitative leap when it comes to show the visitor the contextualization of the challenges archaeological submarines. We must insist in saying that a museography that exhibition discourse does not focus exclusively on own display of the object, as it is usually done generally should be applied in underwater archaeology museums. Objects should be displayed always in a contextual way and on appropriate scenery (including light and sound), with all of the material records concentrated on the same site and, if it could be, with the remains of the vessel in the case of the shipwrecks. These are the changes, in a radical way, proposed to design a new modern approach to educational museography applied to the field of underwater archaeology.

The Swedish Vasa Museum
An example of this new current methodological approach is what is being done in Sweden, for example, musealizando in-situ the remains of the Galleon Wassa, sunk in the year 1628, and exposed in their known Wasamuseet which opened 24 years ago (Norse carry us much benefit). Another very good example of Museum located in the place of the finding would be that of the Viking Museum in Roskilde in Denmark (more Nordic), also proposed construction of viking ships (even for children).  Another example of display on-site is the Mary Rose, a warship from the 16th century preferred by Enrique VIII and which sank in 1545. The remains were found in 1971 and were taken between 1979 and 1982, being later exposed in what is the current Museum in the same port of Portsmouth (England) and which has been completely renovated.

In what has to do with the Mediterranean, was instrumental in what began to do in the coasts of Turkey years ago (not only are the Nordic), that not only strengthened the application of a revolutionary scientific archaeological methodology in the excavation, but proposing in addition all a new approach to contextual museography for finds. Example of this new methodology is the exhibition of the wreck of medieval Serçi Limany, already in the mid-1980s. These remains were exposed under the proposal of an all together, museografiado in a single space. Are the original remains recovered from the seabed on a metal stand and around this anchor artificial objects that were of the crew got ready.
New Museum of the ship Mary Rose in Portsmouth, England

In this way, the display of the remains of a ship from the 11th century, is monographic form with its elements and all your localized and contextual, information that allows us to perfectly know how they were those boats that made the trade route between the ports of Alexandria and Byzantium, along the sirio-palestina coast. There are more examples. Finally, we can mention very good works on Museum for underwater archaeology as archaeological museum of Marsala in Tripani (has horrible website) and the Hecht Museum of Haifa in Israel, the latter with the exhibition of a Phoenician ship which includes all the regalia found, explaining the methods of construction of these boats that constantly crossed the Mediterranean at its time of levante to the West and vice versa.
Mugla Bodrum Museum,Turkey

Also mention the Museum of Mainz (Germany), which has rebuilt two ships from the III and IV century (has the remains of five boats in total) discovered in 1982, serving to explain to visitors the foundations of the Navy maritime military in the area of the Rhine towards the end of the Roman Empire.

 All of these examples that we have pointed out have been a breakthrough on the traditional museography which before was “objects”, for now cause educational experiences that go beyond the passivity which produces the observation of a Cabinet full of belongings. These are what could truly be called “museums of site” that is absolutely what you need a museography as specific and complex.

A museography of the Underwater Cultural heritage is not only integrated, is also contextual, informative, educational, that feels committed to the society that seeks knowledge at your leisure and who, in addition, It invites the visitor to protect this important legacy of humanity, basic to preserve our historical memory that has lain at the bottom of the sea.

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