Tag Archives: Museum

Museum Education Accessibility in the Heart of Bolivia

Posted by Arlean Dawes – MA Candidate at CLACS /Museum Studies Concentration at NYU

The theme of accessibility is arguably one of the most important aspects to any museum. Accessibility takes on different forms such as architectural accessibility in ensuring that museum facilities are manageable for all visitors to the museum, or facilitating certain services specifically for visitors that may need further assistance to fully enjoy the museum visit experience. The creation and accessibility of educational material has been my main focus during my time at INIAM- Museo Arqueológico in Cochabamba (Cochabamba Archeology Museum). In a city such as Cochabamba, that is known as the ‘heart of Bolivia’ for its central location, it is also a major hub for transportation conflicts known as bloqueos or paros de transporte. While these occurrences are not uncommon, they contribute to the difficulty in being able to rely on school groups getting to the museum and the importance of having resources coming from the museum to the schools and communities. INIAM is certainly not brimming with constant public programs with education and community participation as the focus. The interactive educational program is the only set project of the museum that deals directly with school groups visiting the museum and participating in something other than the general museum tour. However, for those schools that are not able to send their students to the museum, we created 6 educational foldables based on the themes that the interactive program covers.

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Museum Education in ‘La Llajta’

Posted by Arlean Dawes – MA Candidate at CLACS /Museum Studies Concentration at NYU

Cochabamba, the third largest city in Bolivia is affectionately referred to as ‘La Llajta’ which in the Quechua language means community or town. The name Cochabamba itself also derives from Quechua. La llajta has become my second home over the past several years and this summer it is serving as my base for field research. As a CLACS student with a concentration in Museum Studies, my experience is rather unique in that I get the opportunity to work within a museum here in Cochabamba and apply certain themes from my thesis to the projects I am heading up at the museum INIAM.

When I initially arrived at INIAM (Anthropological Research Institute and Archaeological Museum), I immediately got started on creating educational materials with Sr. René Machado, the director of the interactive program at the museum. This program was designed by Sr. Machado several years ago with the intention of providing the opportunity for school students to not only have a regular visit touring the museum and seeing artifacts, but rather experience and interact with the collection through activities such as an archaeological excavation, analyzing the Pre-Columbian products found today among the various Bolivian regions and climates. Within my first week in the museum we had planned more or less what we wanted to include in the first 3 doblados and had finished a rough draft of the first two.

The materials and ‘doblados’ or educational foldables are based on six themes which are covered throughout the interactive program—fossilization, migration, stratigraphy and ecological conservation, large civilizations in Bolivian territory, Pre-Columbian agricultural products, and cave art. These foldable will be used to complement the interactive program school children participate in when they visit, however what about schools that are located too far from the city to send their children and don’t have easy access to the museum?

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Yuyanapaq: To Remember Peru’s Violent Past

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(Photos taken with permission at Yuyanapaq; collage original)

I recently began my summer fieldwork in Lima, Peru, where I visited the photo exhibit Yuyanapaq, or “To Remember” in Quechua. Created by Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2003, the exhibit is a compilation of photographs that document the impact of political violence on the Peruvian population in the 1980s and 1990s. It groups violent events geographically and categorically, portraying the aftermath of bombings, murders, and attacks by the Peruvian military, the Maoist group the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), and the other communist armed group the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA). Yuyanapaq is impressive not only in that it does not shy away from exposing the realities of violence, but in that attracts a wide range of Peruvian visitors who, upon being reminded of the country’s violent period, will hopefully work to prevent it from recurring.

The photos evoke Peru’s violent past, even showing physical harm done to the war’s victims. Multiple images show dead and mutilated bodies. They capture inadvertent looks of shock and awe from survivors and first responders, and the utter anguish of family members as they look over the corpses of their loved ones. The only thing that I can think to compare the exhibit to in the United States is a miniature version of the Holocaust Museum. Yet whereas in the Holocaust it was easy to place the blame on the Nazis, and even on one clear, specific perpetrator, in Peru political violence and human rights abuses were committed by both the state military and leftist armed groups such as the Shining Path. How might the moral ambiguity that this type of conflict generates help us better understand the nature of violence? Were all those who committed violent acts in the context of Peru’s war “bad people” at heart, no matter what side they were on? If not, then what pushes otherwise decent people to commit such horrific acts?

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