Toward a Strategy of Community Engagement in the Curation and ...

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Abstract

The purpose of human rights museums is no longer limited to maintaining collections and exhibitions. They now emphasize the preservation of historical memory and the promotion of human rights education. In the face of controversial historical issues, they focus particularly on the techniques required to appropriately interpret and exhibit relevant topics, and they engage much more with various social communities. This gradual evolution has resulted in individual memory being extended and expanded into collective memory. This more inclusive and expansive concept offers an opportunity to enhance public awareness of social and political issues and to implement the principles of the inclusive museum. In this context, this investigation was a case study of the National Human Rights Museum in Taiwan, which is housed on sites where victims of the political repression carried out during the White Terror period were detained, imprisoned, put on trial, and executed. This study examines the role played by community engagement in the curation and interpretation of human rights promotion programs launched by the National Human Rights Museum. Qualitative data were collected through interviews conducted with museum staff, exhibition curators, and other relevant parties, and field data were collected through participatory observation. Three strategies are recommended to aid in human rights museums’ attempts to engage with various social communities: the establishment of a communication platform, the enhancement of multivocal communication, and the use of multimedia applications. These strategies are intended for use in the context of implementing the museums’ interpretation and exhibition of human rights issues.