Friday, 10 March 2017

REPLICATING TO UNDERSTAND? A STANFORD UNIVERSITY APPROACH TO THE MUSEUM OBJECT

OBJECT OF THE WEEK

BY: ELEANOR HOWELL-CHRISTENSEN

Reproducing a priceless (or at least very valuable) museological object is usually synonymous with the term forgery. Reproducing for money is a time-old practice that's plagued the museological community for centuries: think of the Cerne Abbas Giant or the Holly Oak Pendant.  Yet a class at Stanford University is actually encouraging its students to reproduce historical objects, not to gain money but to gain more understanding.

'Things that you learn by doing are lessons that last for a lifetime,' says lecturer Kristen Haring, who teaches the Objects of History class at Stanford. Students replicate historical objects and then interact with them, allowing them to get a literally hands-on approach to the historical eras they're studying. The course uses a combination of modern approaches (think 3D printing) and traditional approaches (think potter's wheel) to explore various objects from the Stanford Collection.

The idea isn't completely new - I remember writing on papyrus in grade school to get a feel for Egyptian Hieroglyphics - but the Stanford course takes the concept to new heights. So what do you think? A fun way to engage with history, or a waste of time?

Check out the video here:


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