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Evolutionary Narratives in Natural History Museums


The present study proposes a qualitative evaluation of exhibit narratives of natural history museums concerning the presentation of concepts (conceptual markers) on evolutionary theory. Seven different natural history museums were chosen in six different countries (Brazil, United States of America, Portugal, United Kingdom, and Russia). The data will be obtained through participant observation, from literature and relevant documentation and from interviews with museum's staff. The main goal is to diagnose within the studied museums on (1) how the evolutionary theory was or is approached in their exhibitions; (2) how was the incorporation of the evolutionary theory in the exhibitions of the different institutions studied; (3) if there is any kind of 'local' interpretation and, if so, what kind of 'local' approach we can find related to different historical and geographical traditions; and (4) to provide subsides for an internal reflexion to the Museu de Zoologia da Universidade de São Paulo to deal with the role that this institution wants to play in Brazil in this beginning of the new century. This project includes the production of audio-visual presentation of its results and a dimension of extraversion and analysis through the development of effective approaches in museums of activities aimed at disseminating ideas related to the theory of evolution. This study consolidates a new research center in a new area (Museology) within this traditional research institution from São Paulo focused on Systematics, Animal Taxonomy and Biodiversity. This initiative corresponds to the wishes of the University of São Paulo, federal government and the general public. (AU)

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