Roeland Paardekooper

"The Value of an Archaeological Open-Air Museum is in its Use"

"The Value of an Archaeological Open-Air Museum is in its Use

Understanding Archaeological Open-Air Museums and their Visitors"

by Roeland Paardekooper

There are about 300 archaeological open-air museums in Europe. Their history goes from Romanticism up to modern-day tourism. With the majority dating to the past 30 years, they do more than simply present (re)constructed outdoor sceneries based on archaeology. They have an important role as education facilities and many showcase archaeology in a variety of ways. Compared to other museum categories, archaeological open-air museums boast a wide variety of manifestations.

This research assesses the value of archaeological open-air museums, their management and their visitors, and is the first to do so in such breadth and detail. After a literature study and general data collection among 199 of such museums in Europe, eight archaeological open-air museums from different countries were selected as case studies. They included museums in a very varied state with different balances between public versus private funding levels on the one hand, and on the other the proportion of private individuals to educational groups among their visitors.

The issue of ‘quality’ was investigated from different perspectives. The quality as assessed by the museum management was recorded in a management survey; the quality as experienced by their visitors was also recorded using a survey. In addition on-site observations were recorded. Management and visitors have different perspectives leading to different priorities and appreciation levels.

The studies conclude with recommendations, ideas and strategies which are applicable not just to the eight archaeological open-air museums under study, but to any such museum in general. The recommendations are divided into the six categories of management, staff, collections, marketing, interpretation and the visitors. They are designed to be informative statements of use to managers across the sector.


Book details

Title: "The Value of an Archaeological Open-Air Museum is in its Use. Understanding Archaeological Open-Air Museums and their Visitors"

Author: Roeland Paardekooper

Language: English

Binding: Paperback

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Sidestone Press Dissertations

Publication Date: 2013

about the Author

Roeland Paardekooper is a Dutch archaeologist from Eindhoven (the Netherlands). He became interested in archaeological open-air museums and experimental archaeology when he turned member of the Dutch Youth Society for History (NJBG). Roeland Paardekooper is also involved in the Eindhoven Museum from 1981 on, as well as in the Dutch Association for Archaeological Experiments and Education (VAEE). He organised several international field trips and visited over 100 archaeological open-air museums across Europe.

Roeland Paardekooper is cofounder and at present director of EXARC, an organisation affiliated to the International Museum Federation ICOM.EXARCs themes are archaeological open-air museums and experimental archaeology and counts 140 members in about 25 countries by end 2012. 1997 Paardekooper received his MA at Leiden University (Prehistory of Europe), in 2012 he got his PhD at Exeter University where he looked into archaeological open-air museums. Among others for his work for archaeological open-air museums at international level as well as for his volunteer work for several organisations in 2012 he was knighted in the Order of Orange Nassau.

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