Public History and Shared Authority at SEAC

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Attendees of this year’s Southeastern Archaeological Conference  in Athens, GA, were able to view the traveling Long Swamp: Life in the Etowah River Valley exhibit.  The exhibit uses a variety of media sources to present visitors with a museum-like experience in nearly any indoor setting.  Packable interpretive panels surround the exhibit, creating a “room” and helping to define the space.  Centrally located interactive touch-screens allow visitors to explore the Mississippian platform mound site.  Acrylic cases displaying artifacts move the cultural remains of these prehistoric people from “out of the shed and into the head”, an important focus of the exhibit’s mission.  The Long Swamp exhibit includes contributions from a wide-variety of stakeholders: the Antonio J. Waring Archaeology Lab, a curation facility that stores the archaeological assemblage recovered at Long Swamp; the Georgia Department of Transportation, who regularly encounter and interpret archaeological sites during road and other development projects; community partners including museum professionals and archaeologists; and members of Tribal groups who in some cases are descended from the Native Americans that lived at Long Swamp.  Exhibitors plan on bringing the collection to Indian Reservations in Oklahoma, where members of tribes forcibly removed from the Southeast can experience the interpretation of a site once inhabited by their ancestors.  The Long Swamp exhibit is an excellent example of the use of multi-media interpretive tools and a large network of stakeholders in a unique and adaptable museum design.

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