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Project Team

Principal Investigator

Dr Anastasia Christophilopoulou (Assistant Keeper, Fitzwilliam Museum)

 

Other participants

Dr Lucilla Burn (former Keeper of Antiquities, The Fitzwilliam Museum)

Professor Robin Osborne (Professor of Ancient History, Faculty of Classics, Cambridge)

 

Collaborating Institutions

University of Cambridge Museums

The National Archaeological Museum, Athens

The Acropolis Museum, Athens

Berlin Museum für Vor- und Frühgeschichte (Neues Museum Berlin)

The University of Crete, Department of History and Archaeology, Rethymno, Crete

 

Funding bodies

A. G. Leventis Foundation (2010-2014) Rediscovering Greece and Rome - Outreach and Public Engagement Actions 

Support for ‘Material Cultures in Public Engagement’ Conference (March 16-17, 2015) provided by:

  • The Fitzwilliam Museum and University of Cambridge Museums internal grants
  • Topoi Excellence Cluster, Berlin and the Berliner Antike-Kolleg (2015)

https://www.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/aboutus/ant/materialcultures

Project summary

Material Cultures in Public Engagement is a collaborative project initiated by the Fitzwilliam Museum and supported by a network of European Museums and Institutions (see above) housing emblematic Ancient World collections. The project seeks to contribute to the advancement of public archaeology as a theoretical discipline as well as a practice within Museums, and to further define the relationship between archaeology and the public. This is being achieved by shedding light to a vast range of current practices across European Museums and Institutions and by adding nuance to our understanding of the ever-evolving theoretical discourses and debates of public archaeology. It is further achieved through a series of public engagement actions, events, training programmes and interventions, implemented by our collaborating museums, partners and archaeological field projects, as described below.

Public engagement actions, events and training programmes

Since 2012, the project has implemented over 50 outreach sessions, public engagement actions, workshops, talks and seminars and object-handling sessions within the Fitzwilliam Museum and our collaborating institutions. In particular:

 

  • Handling sessions for blind and partially sighted audiences in the Fitzwilliam Museum 
  • Touch tours of the Cypriot, Greek and Roman Antiquities of the Fitzwilliam Museum for blind and partially sighted audiences, as well as groups of people with other physical or mental disabilities and their carers.
  • Training sessions on the topic of public engagement with Museums, provided by the Fitzwilliam project team for Heritage professionals, including for members of the Cultural Institutes and Embassies from the member states of the European Union network (EUNIC London, 2016-2017). 
  • Participation in the Innovating Training Aims and Procedures for Public Archaeology network (INNOVARCH), a Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Action, funded by the European Commission (project reference: 2015-1-ES01-KA203-016351).

 

Major outputs

Books:

A. Christophilopoulou (August 2020) (Ed) Material Cultures in Public Engagement: Re-inventing Public Archaeology within Museum Collections, Oxford, Oxbow. ISBN: 9781789253689 Available to order here: https://www.oxbowbooks.com/oxbow/material-cultures-in-public-engagement.html

Book summary: This volume seeks to document and explore the significant change in the relationship of Museums with collections of the Ancient World and their audiences. The volume establishes a new approach to the study of public archaeology as a discipline and application within Museums, by bringing together the voices and experiences of museum professionals (curators, conservators and researchers) and public engagement professionals. Chapters in this volume present clear case-studies of the variety and diversity of public engagement projects conducted currently within European Museums and beyond. While the majority of case studies presented in the volume’s chapters stem from European Museum programmes, plenty of reference is made on parallel strategies and successful public engagement programmes outside Europe. Case studies within the volume provide important insights as to why public engagement programmes have developed in different ways between Europe and the Americas, as well as whether these differences may stem from different curatorial practices. Finally, a number of studies included in this volume point out that methodologies and practices of public engagement applied currently by Museums in or outside Europe, are rarely the subject of theoretical and methodological scrutiny, unlike other fields of study of the Ancient World or other social sciences. In summary, chapters within the book promise to contribute to the advancement of public engagement with the Ancient World, as well as to the advancement of public archaeology itself as a practice.

Articles and chapters in other volumes, invited talks, conference papers, articles in the Press: 

 

  • A. Christophilopoulou (2020) Μεγάλα Ευρωπαϊκά Μουσεία και Δημόσια Αρχαιολογία: Ανοικτός διάλογος, In Galanidou N. (2020) (Ed) Series in Public Archaeology Volume III, Rethymno, University of Crete (forthcoming, September 2020). 
  • A. Christophilopoulou, L. Burn (2020) Introduction: Public Archaeology Initiatives within Museum spaces. In Christophilopoulou A. (August 2020) (Ed) Material Cultures in Public Engagement: Re-inventing Public Archaeology within Museum Collections, Oxford, Oxbow.
  • A. Christophilopoulou (2020) Sensory approaches to material culture: theories and reality of the imagined sensorially-engaged Museum. In Christophilopoulou A. (August 2020) (Ed) Material Cultures in Public Engagement: Re-inventing Public Archaeology within Museum Collections, Oxford, Oxbow.
  • A. Christophilopoulou (2016) Public engagement with the Ancient World: A Museum’s perspective, paper presented for the Innovating Training Aims and Procedures for Public Archaeology network (INNOVARCH), Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, April 2016, Barcelona.
  • A. Christophilopoulou (2017) Μεγάλα Ευρωπαϊκά Μουσεία και Δημόσια Αρχαιολογία: Ανοικτός διάλογος, paper presented to the International Conference on Public Archaeology, Rethymno, University of Crete, May 2017.
  • A. Christophilopoulou (2018) Public engagement, Museums and Volunteerism: Interview to Dimitris Athinakis for the Kathimerini Newspaper (26.09.2018) URL: https://www.kathimerini.gr/986715/article/politismos/eikastika/ti-mporoyn-na-prosferoyn-oi-e8elontes-sta-moyseia
  • A. Christophilopoulou (2018) Public Archaeology and Museums: the Model of the Fitzwilliam Museum Interview to Dimitris Athinakis for the Kathimerini Newspaper (25.09.2018) URL: https://www.kathimerini.gr/986716/gallery/politismos/eikastika/e8elontismos-to-montelo-toy-moyseioy-fitzwilliam?fbclid=IwAR0gTTj2f5LVefKyyMkyWOC4lNVOD4A-E1N-xcQg_iOCil1mr3KrsJTtQ6Q
  • A. Christophilopoulou & L. Burn (2015). Classical Archaeology and public Engagement, Interview to Classics Confidential series,  URL: https://classicsconfidential.co.uk/2014/03/19/publicarchaeology/