Life and Death on the Tuapeka Goldfields — stakeholder input for a community museum's bioarchaeology-based exhibit
This practice insight describes community consultation and creation of an exhibit that was installed in a local museum to share findings from research involving excavations of historic cemeteries. Two individuals who had been buried in unmarked sites in historic cemeteries in the town of Lawrence, in the Otago region of New Zealand were exhumed for bioarchaeological research that included biochemical methods. Results were combined with cultural and environmental information from the Otago goldrush era to reconstruct lives of these settlers and tell their stories in the exhibit described here. Community values about exhibit representations related to human remains were explored through 16 semi-structured stakeholder interviews. Interviewees overwhelmingly but not unanimously supported the creation of an exhibit about this research. Interviewees recommended things to exclude from the exhibit (human remains or images of them) as well as information and objects to include. Information was compiled from multiple sources, including: existing bioarchaeological research findings; interviews with descendant groups, community, and other stakeholders; and historical archives. Information from these multiple sources was combined to create osteobiographies of two individuals — a woman and a Chinese journeyman — who had lived in Lawrence during the goldrush period (1850–1910). These osteobiographies formed the basis of an exhibit that was created and installed in a community museum in the town where their graves were located.
Volume 22 • Issue 02 • 2023