Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA Museum Professions


Communication and the Arts


Juergen Heinrichs, Ph.D.


Memorial Museums, Exhibitions, Collections, Germany, Rwanda, September 11


With the increased threat of geopolitical violence in the 21st century (bioterrorism, nuclear war, government upheaval, and the like), and at a time when most of the world’s citizens are desensitized to extreme forms of violence, it is necessary for museum professionals to undertake the mission of bringing order out of such chaos to educate the public by creating a tangible truth. By “cooling off” the material remains of a mass trauma through processing, registrars begin a chain of events that ultimately allows curators to establish effective visual narratives of the build-up of tensions, the culmination of the events, the immediate aftermath, and the lessons learned in an exhibition that is both educational and commemorative. This paper will explore the process of ordering chaos in the wake of trauma from the initial processing of material remnants through final exhibition and propose best practices for ongoing and future commemorative projects.