As one of the earliest living history museums, Plimoth Plantation has recently been criticized by museum and performance theorists for maintaining its reliance on first-person role playing. It has been suggested that these practices help codify the history that Plimoth represents to visitors. The Mayflower II, Hobbomock’s Homesite, and the Seventeenth Century English Village are the three distinct museum sites that Plimoth Plantation uses to help present an important period of European colonization in American history to their visitors. Each of these three sites uses interpretive methods differently to reflect their individual goals. First-person interpretation works to bring history alive for museum visitors, allowing them the opportunity to touch the crumbling walls of a replicated seventeenth century Colonist’s home and to help its owner grind meal to make dinner. Third-person interpretation and guides work differently to present historical information. Unlike role-players, third-person interpreters are able to present information from our contemporary understanding of history, and this new perspective changes visitors’ ideas of the past. Second-person interpretation allows visitors to become role-players and historians, as they help create their own interpretations of history, for the duration of their visit. It is a more active kind of learning which allows visitors to not only become aware of historical construction as a process, but also to participate in it. Then visitors can take the critical skills they have learned and their experiences with them as they visit other museum sites around the world.
Plimoth Plantation: Producing Historical Knowledge Through Performance.
Undergraduate Review, 9, 141-144.
Available at: http://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol9/iss1/28
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