ZOO Memories

ZOO Memories: A request from Napier University with whom we are connected. Contact G.Seath@napier.ac.uk.

We wish to invite members from the University of the Third Age to work with our BA Exhibition Design students to co-create a series of exhibition installations at Edinburgh Zoo, titled ‘Zoo Memories’. It is hoped that we can encourage U3A members to share their stories, memories and any artefacts relating to Edinburgh Zoo which students can document through a variety of presentation formats as a means to strengthen the institution’s cultural heritage status. Gary Seath.

I have provided the brief copy of the intended exhibition below:
“The city zoo stands as an emblem of cultural status and like the museum it is a complex institution wherein education, entertainment, conservation, tourism and research co-exist. Despite similarities with the museum Silva (2006) argues that zoos have not received sufficient attention from museological or heritage disciplines. Instead, the zoo has maintained a distance from the official categories of cultural heritage. Nevertheless, zoos occupy a central role in the expression of collective values and occupy an equally significant role as a site for personal as well as collective memory, childhood experience and family ritual. Silva (2006) suggests that it is at the zoo where we experience, feel and discover a more exotic nature. The zoo, she argues is a place that is heavily curated and where animals’ lives are only partially seen by the visitor, who unlike the zookeeper is not familiar with the rhythms of animals’ lives and deaths.

Edinburgh Zoo occupies an eminent position of cultural and scientific status within the capital city and yet its own histories, archives and experiences are not part of the zoo’s interpretation. The project that spans the fifteen weeks of the Interpretation and Design module responds to the opportunity to consider Edinburgh Zoo as a heritage site. The project will culminate in an exhibition proposal (Interpretative Plan) for the zoo and two full-scale exhibits taken from the plan. In its scope, the proposed exhibition will develop a co-creation approach to interpretation, making use of two distinct communities’ zoo memories. Firstly, zookeeper’s stories, memories and artefacts will provide an insider account of the zoo’s culture, history and daily rhythms. Secondly, U3A provides a local resource of lived culture which can be researched to gain stories, memories and artefacts. The zoo itself also has a rich set of archival material that can be accessed.’

It is hoped that we can arrange two sessions for late January/early February to record the aforementioned memories and stories at Merchiston Campus, so I am hoping you can share this opportunity within the Member Bulletin? For further information, please ask members to email me.

Kind regards, Gary Seath (g.seath@napier.ac.uk)