Explaining the Past Through Artefacts: 1998 Historical Exhibitions in Ireland and Northern Ireland
Title: Explaining the Past Through Artefacts: 1998 Historical Exhibitions in Ireland and Northern Ireland
Author: CAUVIN, Thomas
Publisher: Revue Belge Philologie Histoire
Citation: Revue Belge De Philologie Et d'histoire, 2009, 87, 03-abr, 743-758
The purpose of this article is to examine how exhibitions can help historians to study interpretations and constructions of the past. The article focuses on historical exhibitions dealing with the 1798 Rebellion and held in 1998 in two national museums of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) in Dublin and the Ulster Museum (UM) in Belfast. The two exhibitions examined are Fellowship of Freedom : The United Irishmen and the Rebellion of 1798 and Up in Arms: The 1798 Rebellion in Ireland, a bicentenary exhibition held at the NMI and UM respectively. The 1998 exhibitions were particularly remarkable since they were direct responses to previous interpretations of the Irish Conflict and aimed at producing new official narratives of the past. Images may be analyzed as historical sources for the topics they deal with, for the context of their production, but also for the context of their display, since interpretation of images contributes to the constant construction of cultural heritage. In order to analyze the reinterpretations of the past, one meaningful approach, then, is to focus on the relationships between images and texts, or in other words, how images were interpreted and organized to produce narratives of the past. First, I compare how the 1798 Rebellion was defined through images, especially the covers of published materials, and to what extent scenes of violence were included in the visual representations of 1798. Second, I intend to clarify how the different interpretations and arrangements of images reveal the larger constructions of the past.
Type of Access: openAccess