University of Leicester
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Interpretation of the ancient past in a museum of archaeology : San Miguel de Azapa Museum of Arcaheology, Arica, Chile

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:45 authored by Julia Cordova-Gonzalez
This thesis examines different interpretations of the ancient past in a museum of archaeology. It focuses on the ways people make meanings from the remote past and how prehistoric populations can be known and understood. With the purpose of explaining the interpretation processes experienced in the museum of archaeology, this research scrutinized museum curators, exhibition designers and regular adult visitors. It was through the empathetic understanding of each of these groups' approach to the ancient past that this research could be developed. Philosophical hermeneutics provided the project with its theoretical framework; qualitative research oriented the methodology and furnished the appropriate methods to optimise understanding of the problem. The case study approach provided coherence to all the processes of interpretation involved, within the museum and about the museum, by generating meaningful data from which the research question could be answered. The case study was the San Miguel de Azapa Museum of Archaeology, located in the northernmost part of Chile, South America. This thesis contributes to museology with a corpus of theoretical approaches and methods in order to develop an understanding of the making of meaning in a museum of archaeology. It is also a contribution to museum education because understanding visitors' inner thoughts is the basis for better communication between the museum and its public.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Museum Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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