By Helaine Silverman
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Extra info for Archaeological Site Museums in Latin America
In this chapter we shall try to illustrate how the cultural patrimony of this region has been used in the past by giving a background of local history, followed by summaries of different attempts to establish community museums: an unsuccessful one at El Azuzul ranch and two others, both successful, in the villages of Potrero Nuevo and Tenochtitlán, respectively. 1. The southern Gulf Coast with the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán region. Map by Steven J. Holland. These events may contribute to an understanding of the problems and achievements surrounding the growth of community museums in the region.
In late July 2004, several pre-Nasca tombs, known as cavernas, were looted within throwing distance of the Paracas Site Museum. This looting, however, was quickly detected and found to be the work of an eccentric schoolteacher from the region, notorious to local archaeologists for more than fifteen years as an occasional huaquero (grave robber). This was an isolated instance. 4. The museum-community relationship at Kuntur Wasi can be positively compared to Riviére’s (1985: 182) concept of “ecomuseum” as “an instrument conceived, fashioned and operated jointly by a public authority and a local population.
Of course, in the cases of Copán (chapter 4), Kuntur Wasi (chapter 5), Pukara (chapter 6), Chiripa (chapter 7), and Cusco (chapter 11), many people living in and around the great archaeological sites are indeed the descendants of those who created the monuments. Conclusion Museums began in Europe as the famous cabinets of curiosities and were displays of elite knowledge and power (see, for example, Findlen 1994). Even as they and royal collections developed into modern museums, these museums remained elite private institutions until their democratization through, for in- Archaeological Site Museums in Latin America / 15 stance, the French Revolution’s Louvre (McClellan 1994) and the founding of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum (1683) and the British Museum (1759)—although admission to the English museums took some determination and perseverance even 123 years after being opened to the public (Ames 1992: 20); the Victorian disciplinary project resolved this problem, albeit through elaboration of the much-criticized exhibitionary complex (see Bennett 1995: 59–88).