Museums are starting to do more and more co-operation with historical enthusiasts. Re-enactment and living history shows are put together around museums. Some museums are fighting financial problems and need to boost the numbers of their visitors. What better than a historical show to allure people in to a museum.

What museums should however remember at all times is, that in the end they are not able to compete with Hollywood productions. Museums should keep to the one thing that is their strenght – authenticity. All shows should be monitored to give the audience an accurate picture of the historical period in question.

Most living history groups have wery high standard of authenticity, at least when it comes to costumes and equipment. Often the characters depicted are also rather representative of the historical period. For example many medieval living history groups are divided into small groups where one couple is of lesser nobility and they have about dozen retainers, servants, tenants and one merchant in their following. Often also different age groups are well presented from little children to elderly people. But a museum should have professional people, who have the ability to evaluate their performers.

There are three major ways of representing living history. One is that the performers do the archeotypal work or handicraft fit for their characters, and tell actively to the audience what they are doing, what kind of equipment they have and what is their characters place in the social and cultural structure. A nother is just slightly different so that the performers do not take an active role in telling everything to the audience, but will answer, if approached and asked. The former seems to work better, if the members of the group feel difficult to act as anyone else than themselves. The latter is easier, especially if the group has a number of members, who do not yet know so much about the period or people who feel uncomfortable talking to strangers. In most cases the public events of “good living history” are mixes of both approaches. The third way is the event whitout audience.

For some re-enactors and living history groups it is wery difficult to actually act the role for wich their clothes and equipment were made for. They may assume an alius of a “medieval” name, but will not act out the character. Not in public nor in private. These same people also want to make a clear difference between LARP and their own hobby. This is mainly because they have just as absurd and generalized picture about LARP as most people have about re-enactment and living history. Both larpers and re-enactors are seen as childish people playing knights and damsels in bedsheet cloaks. Altough there is much truth in this picture, for both re-enactors and larpists have a good number of those people, also both hobby groups have many dedicated people, whose sole interrest is history. While most larpers are rubbersword weildin youths playing fantasy, and only a minority recreates historically authentic games, they all are able to act and perform their characters. Where many re-enactors have problems going to character, most of them have made efforts to have historically authentic kit.

In my opinion for good living history less is more. I mean that in living history a character should have a good basic everyday equipment and clothes. They should fitt the character and you should be able to act as the character. However you should not overact. People were not caricatures in historical times. They were real people same as you and I. They were just as smart as we are. They did not know how to switch on television or how to drive a car, for they had no use for this knowledge. They did not know how to build a nuclear power plant, but neither do you.

 To make good representation of history one should allways bear in mind that history in it self was not a series of strange and wondrous things, but mostly common everyday life. It maybe different in the eyes of a modern city dweller, but throughout history most people have lived like they still do. Working, eating, sleeping, loving and having a couple of laughs on the way.

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