Pigorini National Museum Of Prehistory And Ethnography Essay

Sharing Memories and "Telling" Heritage through Audio-Visual Devices. Participatory Ethnography and New Patterns for Cultural Heritage Interpretation and Valorization

Irene Salerno


This paper focuses on the "storytelling" and the assumptions of participatory ethnography applied to the valorisation and fruition of cultural heritage. The paper will describe the outcomes of the project Al Museo con...Patrimoni narrati per musei accoglienti (At the Museum With... Narrated Heritage for Welcoming Museums, www.almuseocon.beniculturali.it) as case study. Launched in February 2013, the project has been promoted by two Italian museums based in Rome: the National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography "L. Pigorini" and the National Museum of Oriental Art "G. Tucci". It aimed at developing original ways to visit museum collections through an anthropological approach based on personal narrations by "privileged witnesses" (such as representatives of diaspora communities, refugees as well as the deaf people community) and with the aid of audiovisual devices, enhancing a participatory and multi-vocal approach to the knowledge of heritage.


storytelling; cultural heritage; participatory ethnography; participatory writing; museum; exhibition; audio-visual devices

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12835/ve2014.2-0035


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ISSN Print 2499-9288
ISSN Online 2281-1605
Publisher Altrimedia Edizioni
Patronage University of Basilicata, Italy
Web Leonardo Di Benedetto

Periodico registrato presso il Tribunale di Matera, numero di registrazione 2/2014




The historical roots of a prestigious cultural institution


The Superintendence of the "Luigi Pigorini" National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography in Rome has, from its foundation, served as a center both for excellence in research and for the promotion of the Nation’s ethno-anthropological and palethnological collections. The origins of this institution, in terms of scientific activity and conservation, can be traced back the foundation, within the buildings of the Roman College, of the "Royal National Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography in Rome" in 1875.


According to the intentions of its founder, Luigi Pigorini, the purpose of this new institution was not only to gather together the remains of Italian prehistoric culture and the "primitive" cultures of other European and non-European peoples in a "central" museum, located in the new capital of the Kingdom, but above all to support, promote and participate in research by palethnologists in Italy.


Since its foundation, the "Royal Museum of Prehistory and Ethnography of Rome" has carried out the vital function of promoting and coordinating excavations of Italian prehistoric sites and has made significant contributions.


To the development of teaching activities and to the teaching of this subject higher education, at the Museum, were established the courses of the first university chair of Palaeontology in Italy: this is a constant and extraordinary work of popular science with the creation, in the same year of founding of the museum, one of the first European magazines devoted to prehistoric disciplines, the Bulletin of Italian Palethnology.


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