Connecting to everyday practices: experiences from the Digital Natives exhibition olE sEJEr ivErsEN aNd rachEl charlottE smith
Museums have traditionally been seen as formal places for heritage preservation and displays that connect us to history. They provide the public with authoritative historical and cultural knowledge and act as civic educational spaces of reflection about the past, made meaningful in the present (Macdonald 2003; Bennett 2004). While these cultural institutions have acted as important ‘bearers’ of heritage and identity, they often ignore the dialogical aspects of people’s social practices that take place inside and indeed beyond their walls (Handler and Gable 1997). Our approach sees the mission of a museum as one fundamentally concerned with transforming and enriching our understandings, perspectives and visions of the world as they relate to past, present and future experiences. We are particularly concerned with the role of the museum as a connector, creating meanings between contemporary cultural practices and people’s everyday lives. Embedded in this mission is the fundamental challenge of bringing together, exploring and harmonizing what arise at the intersection between audiences’ everyday practices and what people experience, value and construct as heritage. We see this challenge as one of exploring connections – that is, addressing the potential issues and designs that may link heritage matters to the everyday lives of particular audiences through concrete exhibition projects.