Curating the Idea of Magna Carta

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On 15th June 2015 Egham, the town adjacent to historic Runnymede in the United Kingdom, celebrated the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta. In this article the Curator of Egham Museum at the time of the anniversary reflects on the challenges of curating an exhibition exploring the significance and legacy of Magna Carta without the star attraction: a copy of the Charter itself. The article explores the challenges facing small museums in telling stories without objects, the importance of objects to the definition of a museum and its functions and offers examples of other attempts to create museum exhibitions and heritage experiences without objects. Through review and reflection on Egham Museum's Public History orientated approach to the lack of objects at its disposal: the paper discusses facilitation with communities to help celebrate their own heritage and create their own collection of objects that revealed what a valued ephemeral concept might mean to them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-447
Number of pages17
JournalCurator The Museum Journal
Issue number3
Early online date8 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2018


  • Museums
  • public history
  • Heritage
  • Magna Carta
  • commemoration
  • Exhibition

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