Past Guests

David Francis

David Francis
© Benedict Johnson

My research focuses on the role narrative plays in the museum and attempts to forge a dialogue between the narratives created by museum professionals and those brought to the space by the museum user.

During my month at CARMAH, I wrote up a book chapter with fellow doctoral candidate Christine Gerbich on the subject of public engagement and archaeology. This book chapter grew out of an earlier collaboration we’d undertaken: a world-café style workshop, known as the Archaeo-Pub that took place at the Berliner Antike-Kolleg on the 17th and 18th of September 2015. This workshop brought together an international group of around thirty researchers from the fields of archaeology, art history, conservation studies, sociology, communication sciences, and museum studies to discuss the entanglements between museums and heritage sites, archaeological theory and practice and their diverse publics.

Whilst at CARMAH, I was also in the final stages of writing up my PhD thesis on the development of temporary exhibitions at the British Museum. The backdrop of Berlin’s museums and heritage provided both familiarity – Schinkel’s Altes Museum and Smirke’s British Museum being architectural contemporaries, but also contrasts, most notably in how both cities deal with their colonial heritage. This vocally manifested itself in the debates surrounding the construction of the Humboldt Forum, which loomed large throughout my stay, and I had the opportunity to discuss its future incarnation with numerous academics and museum professionals who were involved in – and in some cases opposed to – its creation. With the British Museum’s Director Neil MacGregor having recently joined the Humboldt Forum as one of the famed ‘Triumvirate’, this effectively provided my thesis with its post-script: how would the museological techniques and approaches that had rejuvenated the British Museum’s exhibition programme operate in a very different cultural context?