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Istituto per i Beni Culturali Emilia-Romagna

Memoria e Ricerca

When Public History is at stake: museum, historians and political reconciliation in the Republic of Ireland

di Thomas Cauvin
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 37 (2011), p. 53

This article explores the collaborations between historians and the National Museum in the Republic of Ireland. The author contends that the new collaborations between the museum and professional historians in the 1990s revealed wider reappraisal of the links between past and present. The collaboration resulted from the encounter between cultural and political demands – especially during the political context of reconciliation in Ireland and Northern Ireland – and historiographical redefinitions of the use of the past. Kevin Whelan’s work with the museum demonstrated how certain historians met the cultural and political requirements. Nevertheless, the author argues that the absence of public/applied history training prevented to go fully beyond the academic frontiers. The 1998 exhibition remained all in all built on the collaboration between two distinct agents, academically trained historians and museum practitioners, and not an autonomous Public History project.