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Bronze casting at Montale
We took part in a guided tour of a group of schoolchildren at the Open Air. They were presented with a number of slides and a long explanation (in Italian, of course) on the Archeology of the site. This explanation was rather long, some 30-45 minutes. The associated activity of digging for archeological finds is one we have had in Archeon in the past, but we found that too few of the children could actively participate. However, it did work in this setting. The cataloguing of the finds afterwards placed the activity in a wider setting. This is very good from an educational point of view, but again, costs quite a bit of time.
From this experience we can take home the idea of placing concrete activities in a broader (academic) context. But in Archeon our experience is that the activities and associated tours should be much shorter, also due to the fact that we often have large numbers of visitors on-site.
Learning from the Bronze casting displays in the Open Air Museum, we found it curious that they were done in modern clothing and in a modern context. We are used to having our displays and our tour-guides (Archeo-interpreters) in thematic (prehistoric, roman, medieval, etc) clothing. However, by placing the guide or the demonstrator outside of the context of the actual activity of casting, the focus comes to lie more completely on the activity or demonstration itself. The guide / archeologist also has more (academic) authority when not in thematic clothing.
Being able to participate first-hand in bronzecasting is a great experience and could even be offered to interested parties (archeologists for instance) as a workshop or as part of a teambuilding exercise, for instance. It has also inspired us to resurrect a weekly bronzecasting meeting among our own staff. And a weekly or monthly bronze casting demonstration for our visitors.
Placing the casting itself in a broader context again, by making the casting part of a process (prospecting, mining, transporting, casting, finishing, trading), enriches the whole experience. Brainstorming on how to implement the activity and also the context of the activity is something that can be applied to many displays, not just bronzecasting.
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