After Life: Engaging Museum Visitors with the Theme of Death and Remembrance

Ben Paites, Emma Reeve


In August 2015, three pottery vessels were discovered in the River Colne in Colchester’s Castle Park. After discussion with the local Hindu temple, these objects were identified as Hindu vessels used during death rites, and subsequently they were entered into the collection of Colchester + Ipswich Museums. These finds acted as a catalyst for an exhibition called After Life, which deployed the wider museum collections, including its archaeological artefacts, to explore through the themes of Body, Soul and Mourning, how people engaged with death in the past and how they continue to do so. This article outlines the public engagement activities conducted during the development of the exhibition, an overview of the exhibition itself, and a discussion of the ‘Death Café’ public event, which took place in the museum during the run of the show. As such, the article offers a case study in public mortuary archaeology in the museum environment.


death; exhibition; museum; mourning; Hindu

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ISSN: 2171-6315

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