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Performance, Learning & Heritage


Over three and a half years, the Performance, Learning and Heritage (PLH) project set out to develop a strategy for recording and examining various 'performance' styles within museum and heritage settings, whilst documenting and mapping current practice within this diverse and contested field. This research follows from and builds upon an earlier project, funded by the AHRC and carried out under the direction of Tony Jackson, which investigated the use of performance at two museums for organised school groups. The research findings pointed to some significant features of performance as a learning tool and highlighted the need for a more in-depth exploration of the use of performance both at museums and at heritage sites, and for independent visitors as well as school groups.

The full report, "Seeing it for Real: an investigation into the effectiveness of theatre and theatre techniques in museums", can be found: here (please note large download)

The PLH study thus involved a wider sample in terms of the number and type of sites, and the number and type of visitors, and was able to investigate the extent of recall and of the learning (if any) over a much longer term. Among the tasks we set ourselves, we have:

In recent years education and social inclusion have become increasingly important to museum and heritage agendas, and many site directors now see their galleries as sites for experiment, debate, and as bases from which to reach out into the community. Just as wider debates take place about 'nationality', 'citizenship' and 'heritage' (including whose heritage?), the very purpose of the museum has been and continues to be interrogated. Drama has been seen by a number of sites as a way of stimulating those debates, its fictionality highlighting the constructedness of many of the narratives the museums tell through their exhibits.

» Select the links on the left hand side to explore the research context, questions and further information. «