Collections and Exhibitions

Museum exhibitions are familiar to most people. Treasures displayed for the enjoyment (and education) of the general public… isn’t that the best way for archaeologists to tell people about their work and their discoveries? (As a museum curator, I agree completely.) Here are different types of exhibitions you might find in a museum.

Permanent Collections/Permanent Galleries
Museums will display a portion of the fabulous collections entrusted in their care in their permanent galleries. Occasionally, famous works of art might be lent to other institutions or be removed from the galleries to undergo conservation treatment, but there is always something from a museum’s permanent collection on view somewhere in the building (even if your favourite piece is not always on display). The quality of a museum’s permanent collection makes its reputation. Visit your local museum and find out what they are famous for…

Temporary Exhibitions
The masterpieces and artefacts presented in a temporary exhibition can be part of a museum’s collection that isn’t normally on display, but more often are part of a special collection from another museum or private collection, or represent a grouping of masterpieces from numerous museums gathered together under a specific theme. Temporary exhibitions are presented in a museum for a limited length of time (generally a few months) and are very popular because they are once-in-a-lifetime museum experiences.

Travelling Exhibitions
A travelling exhibition will be presented at different museums within a country or around the world. Needless to say, a travelling exhibition is by default a temporary exhibition. Occasionally, museums undergoing renovations will organise a travelling exhibition of their artefacts and masterpieces so that they can be seen across the country even if the museum or the permanent galleries are closed.

ROCHELEAU, C.M. Ancient Egyptian Art. North Carolina Museum of Art, 2012.

ROCHELEAU, C.M. Ancient Egyptian Art. North Carolina Museum of Art, 2012.

Exhibition and Collection Catalogues
Artefacts presented in a permanent or temporary exhibition at a museum are often published in catalogues, books that show pictures and give a description of the objects. Theses catalogues can focus on an entire collection at the museum (systematic catalogue), illustrated a few masterpieces from various collections within a museum (collection handbook or catalogue of select works), or accompany a temporary exhibition and feature works in that special exhibition (exhibition catalogue). Those catalogues are beautifully illustrated with maps and coloured photographs and fun to read. Some people even collect them!

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International Museum Day 2017

In 2017, the theme of International Museum Day is  “Museums and contested histories: Saying the unspeakable in museums”.  In this day and age, It is a rather pertinent topic and here is how ICOM explain why museums are important institutions in our tumultuous world.

History is a vital tool for defining a given people’s identity, and each of us defines ourselves through important and fundamental historic events. Contested histories are unfortunately not isolated traumatic events. These histories, which are often little known or misunderstood, resonate universally, as they concern and affect us all.

Museum collections offer reflections of memories and representations of history. This day will therefore provide an opportunity to show how museums display and depict traumatic memories to encourage visitors to think beyond their own individual experiences. 

By focusing on the role of museums as hubs for promoting peaceful relationships between people, this theme highlights how the acceptance of a contested history is the first step in envisioning a shared future under the banner of reconciliation. 

 

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