Tag Archives: Indiana Jones

Review Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology by Kirsty Ackland

Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in collaboration with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. The response below is from Kids in Museums volunteer Kirsty Ackland. Hi name is Kirsty Ackland, and I am a volunteer from Kids in Museums I have been working with Young Critics on this new project with National Musem’s Wales . I am also a first year archaeology student at Cardiff University, and I am well known as a history nerd!


At first glance, the exhibition seems like a fantastic walk through ‘treasures’ of the past. On entry (after perhaps a slightly overpriced fee, cost adults £7, concessions £5, 16s & under free) all seems well with designs obviously targeted for kids and families. However on closer inspection, it seems that everything is a little too large and impressive, with much of the decoration put up for atmosphere taking away from the actual artefacts on display.

These artefacts, arranged in what appears to be chronological order (although no exact civilisation dates are given), are mostly replicas, which seems odd considering you are paying £7 to see actual archaeology. Much debate with our group afterwards revealed an interesting point about when exactly replicas become historical objects themselves. On the other hand, when museum archives are full of other perfectly acceptable ‘real’ pieces I feel this argument become a little invalid.

Moving on to how the information was displayed, this all seemed a little confusing. Some labels for artefacts were not related to the cases they were displayed in, and on one occasion you actually have to stand at a particular angle to notice it. It is also difficult to determine which of the larger displays relate to a specific cabinet for the story to flow. This all seems indicative of a rushed exhibit, and judging by how much bigger the hall is compared to the space used, I would say it could have been better thought out.

From an archaeological perspective there are some really great aspects within the exhibition. It utilises artefacts from both Wales and abroad, and there is even a real mummified body on central display, complete with its very own CT scan. Exciting, but for the other artefacts, there is little if any explanation of what they may have been used for, and virtually no interactivity based on archaeology at all. There is a nice little video area where you can learn about the history of archaeology and the origins of some of the major discoveries, such as the South American communities; and a display describing the issues with fake artefacts. This is all very interesting, and easy to discover if you have a day to spend simply reading and learning.

Preview-of-new-exhibition-at-National-Museum-CardiffThe real “selling point”, is of course the Indiana Jones section of the exhibit. This is very exciting for adults reliving their childhood, as there are Crystal Skulls and in all its glory the outfit Indie himself wore in the films. During our discussion the question was raised as to how many children these days would be interested in a franchise from the 1980’s, but from the reactions of the children there, perhaps the old costume was working as intended. Again however this raises an issue with me personally. The idea that the museum is paying George Lucas/Lucasfilm to hire a costume that has already made him millions – and I may add will continue to do so-seems strange to me. Usually advertisements work the other way around. What makes this worse is that the museum is already paying to house objects in their archives. Quite honestly this exhibit would be just as good without the Indiana Jones appeal and thus could save the museum a few quid … which could quite easily end up back in the pocket of the general public.

All in all, this exhibit would be quite good as a full day’s exploration to get your money’s worth. The affect of inspiring a generation of budding archaeologists is one that you could certainly feel from this exhibit. Everything had the wow factor that could light up a child’s imagination-or explode it. Much of the exhibition was celebrating archaeology, a subject which is all but glamorous, and had the effect of organised chaos, which from a family perspective, would not be wanted

The Museum Critics an insight into National Museum Cardiff by Lois Arcari

Young Critics, 3rd Act Critics and Kids in Museums volunteers are working in partnership with Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales (ACNMW) http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/ on a new free project focusing on the quality and standards of exhibitions and programming at their sites across Wales. Those involved recently spent a day with the staff at the National Museum, Cardiff. We will be featuring the responses to the day from the participants over the next few days, next up Young Critic, Lois Arcari.
Death of the Author – all great works must bow to it, to be thought as of such.What about great places, prompting great memories and passions? Response breaths life to art, in quiet thought and idle conversation just as much as any great debate. The spectator as creator needs to be accepted…. are they?
This is what the Young Critics, Kids in Museums and 3rd Act Critics teamed up to discuss this previous weekend, in the beautiful National Museum, Cardiff, looking at completely contrasting exhibits to try and form a coherent narrative on why and how museums deserve to grow, with accessibility and increased open dialogue in mind.The day pointed out diversity spectacularly in both exhibits and response.
The new and hotly anticipated ‘Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology’ exhibition, with props and inspiration from the Indiana Jones franchise certainly aims to tear down any expectations of the fusty and austere in modern museums.
Représentation de crâne humain
Crystal Skull. Photograph © Musée du Quai Branly, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrick Gries / Valérie Torre
How far can one exhibit go – even with a much-loved film series behind it? It remains to be seen, debuting in January 2016  as a priced exhibition for the museum. Even cynics must admit the reaction it gets will certainly be as very interesting as it’s spectators are interested. And, as everyone shall be pleased to hear, actively sought out as well as listened to.
Luckily, the two exhibits we saw, in the fresh and present, offered a beguiling contrast, from the geology and maps of William Smith to the gleefully anarchic meditations on destruction of Ivor Davies. Practical concerns were made –  volume, fonts size, positioning, as well as the more abstract – how to make sure potentially dry subjects could prove to compel people outside of their specialism, and how the more obviously popular could lead onto the obscure, and be given equal fervour. Each were enticing for different reasons, my personal favorite the expansive Davies exhibit, hinged on a universal themes, explored in different, and all intriguing facets – the maps were harder to match up to, the direction of pull for the general public unclear, the room itself as liable, before exploration, to feel cold as calm and contemplative.          
The central humanity of each exhibit, thematically or narratively, with Smith the heroic everyman was a draw to each critic, all agreeing to it as the sometimes hidden central selling point of any exhibition, the lives behind the art  being enlightened preventing any feelings of imposition.
Discussion was ever encouraged and enlightened, the real, vested interest palpable. Museums that care as much about their audience as artists as the linear type  are destined to survive any challenges, and this day, and what was shown through it, were brilliant examples.