Complexity of Celtic Culture and Museum Practices
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Presenting cultural communities in museums is challenging. Each of these groups has nuances that make them difficult to accurately display in an exhibit. I chose to look at this particular issue through the lens of Celtic culture. To be able to display Celtic culture in museums, those creating an exhibit need to have certain knowledge. Most people assume that the Celts only inhabited the British Isles, as they are most associated with that region today. In fact, the Celts emerged in what is now central Austria. Their history was one of expansion and movement. At its farthest, there were Celtic settlements from Turkey to Spain, yet the Celts were never a single, unified kingdom. This complicated history leads to a debate among scholars about how to define the term ‘Celt.’ Popular opinions include arguments that the Celts are a genetic group, a linguistic group, an artistic style, or a cultural group with shared beliefs and practices. Another important discussion that surfaces while researching these varied definitions is the ‘Anti-Celt’ idea, which argues that the term is not broad enough to describe the numerous Celtic groups spread across Europe. After gaining an understanding of Celtic culture by exploring its history and definitions, this knowledge can be incorporated into the phases of creating an exhibit – planning, display, text (writing and interpretation), and evaluation. All of this information comes together to create a strategic process for museums to implement a comprehensive exhibition on Celtic culture. This research capstone includes a brief explanation of Celtic history, a literature review covering the various scholarly definitions of the term ‘Celt,’ and a step-by-step analysis of the phases involved in building an exhibit. The final product is a framework that can be utilized to present the complexity of Celtic culture in an appropriate and knowledgeable way.