Dinosaurs in museums: authenticity verses popular culture

Winn-Rossiter, Robert (2010) Dinosaurs in museums: authenticity verses popular culture. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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Since 1854, life restorations of dinosaurs have been used in the heritage industry, notably museums, as a means of presenting a view of what dinosaurs looked like. As no-one has ever seen a dinosaur, palaeontologists and artists have collaborated to create a form of art called paleoart as an attempt to recreate the dinosaur’s life appearance. Museums have identified ‘dinomania’ as having a commercial value and a means of attracting visitors to museums. However, due to influences by popular culture, notably Jurassic Park, life restorations tend to portray an incorrect view of dinosaurs, which is deemed an unethical practice among academics and museum professionals because museums are institutions for education. A theme which is prominent throughout the dissertation is the conflict and collaboration between science/authenticity and popular culture. The dissertation sets out to evaluate the authenticity of dinosaur displays in museums and discover if this affects visitors by examining the extent of authenticity of the displays, what the general public identify as dinosaurs and if they are bothered by inauthenticity. The ethicality of having false images of dinosaurs and its effect on visitor numbers and funding is also discussed. Questionnaire surveys, interviews, and secondary sources of literature have been used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data which has given both a public perspective on dinosaur restorations and information from museum professionals, palaeontologists and paleoartists. For the surveys, the method of a simple systematic network has been used to change qualitative data into quantifiable data, to help discuss and argue the themes within the dissertation. Visits to local museums and researching many museums internationally using the Internet have given many examples of the repetitive themes of the inauthenticity of dinosaur life restorations. From this study, paleoart and its processes has been given a clearer definition.

Item Type: Dissertation
Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Science > School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Jane Polwin
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2011 16:57
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2017 12:08
URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/1154

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