The Oregon Trail sesquicentennial as interpreted by museums on the Oregon Trail Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/0r9678072

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  • This study describes and analyzes Oregon Trail related exhibits of eleven museums and two interpretive centers that are geographically located along the Oregon Trail from Baker City, Oregon to Portland, Oregon. The exhibits were featured at the facilities during the 1993 Oregon Trail Sesquicentennial, a celebration that was initiated and organized by the state of Oregon. The context of the Sesquicentennial and the geographical feature of all facilities located on or near the trail provided a unique opportunity to investigate the influences upon and development of exhibits with a common theme, as well as their reaction to a major state celebration promoting "heritage tourism." Out of a total of thirteen facilities, I viewed ten personally. I also asked questions of the curators or directors regarding the exhibit and its development. Especially of note in this study was the exhibits' content on themes prominent in western American history and the possible influences upon their interpretation. I found exhibits to range from very contemporary depictions of the Oregon Trail experience, with an emphasis upon the complexity of issues the predominantly Euro-American trek created and reflected, to traditional interpretations focused exclusively upon uncritical regard and reverence for the emigrants and their journey. American Association of Museums (AAM) standards condone diversity in all aspects of museums, including exhibits. Those museums with more contemporary than traditional depictions better fit the AAM guidelines, and often used the Oregon Trail exhibit within a larger theme. I found the influences upon the interpretations were the institutional goals, funding, exhibit development methods, and the internal initiative of staff and volunteers. The two interpretive centers in the sample had similar influences, although their role was more focused than museums upon benefiting the local economy. The 1993 Sesquicentennial stimulated most museums to create or add to an Oregon Trail exhibit, but did not directly affect interpretations. Sesquicentennial agencies played a general organizational and supportive role.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Patricia Black(patricia.black@oregonstate.edu) on 2012-11-02T22:38:53Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 1 FacklerAmyE1996.pdf: 13525367 bytes, checksum: a22b724bf3cc464d0c29977b85de660f (MD5)
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