The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward: The Archaeology Open House as Heritage Process

Author(s): Bonnie Clark

Year: 2015


The open house has long been a tool employed by archaeologists who wish to engage or at least inform the public about their field work. Projects that have a strong community mandate would seem tailor-made for this type of activity. Yet if these events are to meet their promise they need to move from mere "show and tell" to more thoughtful and theoretical interventions. That is particularly true for sites with difficult or contested histories. This presentation draws on four seasons of open houses held by the University of Denver Amache field school at the site of Colorado’s WWII-era Japanese American internment camp. Ranging from 400 person tours, to museum exhibits, to one-on-one tours, activities at these open houses have often, but not always, been successful. Framed by critical heritage studies, especially Laurajane Smith’s contention that heritage is a process, this presentation will highlight some ways archaeologists can enable or hinder engagement through the open house. Voices of visitors, community volunteers, and students are woven through this reflection.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward: The Archaeology Open House as Heritage Process. Bonnie Clark. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395920)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.95; min lat: 30.751 ; max long: -97.163; max lat: 48.865 ;