House museums are obvious sites for the interpretation of women’s history themes. Yet it rarely happens, despite a regular jeremiad by feminist heritage managers. This paper surveys some reasons: conservative management agencies and the taste for traditional styles of history; interpretive limits imposed by the frozen-moment style of period room settings; constraints of expectation on the part of house museum visitors; and the sheer terror of throwing out old interpretive models to bring in new ones. Nonetheless, the paper canvasses some basic methods to re-insert women into house museum presentations, and reviews two major elements of women’s history for interpretive inspiration. The themes of women’s work and the female body contain quantities of material culture often to be found in house museum collections, and it is noted that both are topics that generate immediate, personal connections to the lives of modern visitors. The paper concludes that complex historical ideas require more interpretive material and techniques than static furnishings alone can convey.
|Number of pages||24|
|Journal||Open Museum Journal|
|Publication status||Published - 2002|