• Hidden histories and cabinets of curiosities: Reconciling histories and values with exhibitions in a military museum context

      McKay, Ian S. H.; University of Cheter (2013-05-16)
      Military museums are recognised as one of the principal categories of ‘specialist interest museums’ in the sector, with 136 organisations in the UK registered with the Army Museums Ogilby Trust. In 2007, and more recently in 2012, the British Army was significantly restructured, seeing the disbandment and merging of old regiments with local ties into bigger converged regiments with regional associations. The residual military museums now occupy a unique space of the museum-scape, facing simultaneously an uncertain future and an identity crisis in their representation of regiments that no longer exist. This paper will outline the context of Ian’s research, examining a subtheme that discusses the reconciliation of the British Army history with those presented in museums. Specifically, it seeks to explore the relationship between military histories and values of visitors, museum staff and current and ex-military personnel with exhibition design and the museum narrative. In engaging with specific case studies, this paper will consider whether it is possible, given the content of such museums, to offer a holistic representation of military life and experience of war, when aspects of military history are not considered (hidden histories) and the significance of objects not always explained (cabinets of curiosities).