Lindow Manchester


Is a Care Bear Appropriate?

Nearly 8 months after Lindow Man a Bog Body Mystery closed the Museum is still receiving comments about the exhibition. We receive between 500 and 1000 visits to the Blog every month. This is an email received by Stephen Devine (New Media and Photographic Officer) from Jean N.:

‘I have just visited the Lindow Man web page. How can you hold
a ‘responsibility to treat human remains with respect and dignity’
yet show an image of a ‘Care Bear’ underneath the heading ‘Lindow
Man’? It conveys the wrong message completely!’

This is Steve’s reply:-
Thank you for taking the time to contact us and apologies for my slow response.

 

Our human remains policy restricts the use of image of human remains which is one reason why you do not see an image of Lindow Man himself on our website.

Our Lindow Man exhibition presented a number of perspectives relating to memories of the discovery of Lindow Man. The Care Bear, selected by one of the members of the public involved in the exhibition, represents one of these.

The Care Bear was something that reminded the participants of that time in her life and of the discovery of Lindow Man.

This was one of a number of images used extensively in the exhibition and for the marketing of the exhibition. As such I feel that on our website the image represents the exhibition rather than Lindow Man himself.

While there was a number of different reactions to the use of the Care Bear there was never any intention of disrespect towards Lindow Man.

Personally I feel that connecting Lindow Man with viewpoints of the living and the focus on related objects from modern times as well as his own the exhibition showed a great deal of respect.
Many thanks, Steve

I replied:-

“A number of people have commented on the Care Bear. It might help you to appreciate why we put this in the exhibition if I explain about the consultation that we did over a year in advance of opening.

Recognizing that human remains are more of an emotive topic nowadays than the last time the Museum displayed Lindow Man back in 1987 and 1991, we invited a wide-ranging group of people to consult about the exhibition. The invitees included curators, archaeologists, students, members of Manchester City Council, members of the public and pagans. We put them in mixed groups and all five groups reported back that they wanted a respectful treatment of Lindow Man and for his interpretation to reflect the different theories about how and why he died.

We decided to implement those recommendations by interviewing a number of different people, each of whom had had experience of Lindow Man in one way or another. They included a forensic scientist, two peat diggers, a landscape archeologist, someone who lives at Lindow Moss, museum curators from the BM and Manchester Museum and a Pagan.

We asked the interviewees to recommend objects as exhibits for each section. Susan Chadwick, who lived at Lindow Moss when she was a little girl, told us about her Care Bear and how it reminded her of the time when Lindow Man was discovered. We thought that it was useful as a device to help people remember when Lindow Man was found and to think about what they were doing when he was discovered and reactions to the discovery.

The toy was intended to show visitors that the perspective on Lindow Man was that of someone who is now a mature adult but who was just a child in 1984. Susan’s testimony gives us a unique perspective: through her eyes we find out what it was like to find her favourite paths closed off by Police “Crime Scene investigation” tape or the feelings of local people when Lindow Man goes off to London. As this section was separate from the display of Lindow Man, I personally don’t think it was insensitive to show the Care Bear and it also helped young children to engage with some of the ideas.

Of course I accept that different people will have different ideas of what constitutes respect and sensitive treatment but we did consult and, in the context of the approach we took to the exhibition, I still personally feel that it was respectful. Human remains are such a contentious area that probably no two people are going to agree entirely. It was that kind of exhibition I’m afraid but we did try to obtain consensus through our consultation.”

Jean has replied:-

‘Thank you for your reply. My comment was in no way a criticism of the exhibition (which I have not seen) but the strange juxtaposition on the web-page. I am sure that the exhibition treated the remains with respect and I now appreciate that in 1984 the Care Bear might strike a chord with other children.

What struck me as strange, however, was the motif of the Care Bear directly underneath the title ‘Lindow Man’ on the web-page as if the Care Bear was a representation of Lindow Man. That surely wasn’t the intention. Maybe no-one else has made that assumption?

My present interest in Lindow Man is as a student on the new OU course Understanding Global Heritage although I was aware of him from previous studies. I come from a museum family and I write also as one who has been involved in museum display and interpretation in the Highlands on an occasional consultancy basis.’

Our thanks to Jean for these comments and allowing us to post the correspondence on the Lindow Man Blog.

 

 

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