Museums and Material Culture: Regionalism versus Nationalism in the Archaeological Museums of Greece



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Scholars such as Margarita Díaz-Andreu and Yannis Hamilakis have thoroughly explored the way in which nationalism and national narratives have worked with and against archaeology throughout the last few centuries in Europe. The concept of nationalism is often spoke of in a nebulous way and said to have direct influences on the material culture and its record. In this paper I will argue that the correlation runs strongly in the opposite direction: that the material culture is being used in the museums to shape national narratives and promote nationalism. This is not the full story, however. With the introduction of New Museum Theory in the 1980’s and its spread to the Greece in the following decades, regional and local museums are implementing practices that interact with and even contradict these national narratives. In focusing on four archaeological museums which deal with the Bronze Age Argolid (the National Archaeological Museum, the Archaeological Museum of Nauplion, the Archaeological Museum of Argos, and the Archaeological Museum of Mycenae), I hope to show just how these regional museums are adopting New Museum Theory and providing a more nuance picture of the historical narrative in the face of nationalism.