Museology Master of Arts Program

June 12, 2015

Daring to be Dramatic: An Examination of the Live Interpretation of Slavery at Two Living History Museums

Thesis by Tessa Yeaman (2015)

This research identifies how two living history museums, at two different points in time, developed programming that specifically aligns with their property’s historic role in the American slave trade. In order to achieve a greater understanding of how these museums continue to craft these programs, this research examined how interpretive teams designed these experiences, the subsequent principles and practices that guided their development, and their suggested recommendations for future endeavors. Findings indicate several themes that may be particularly useful to institutions who aim to depict the reality of slavery through theatre and live interpretation including; achieving authenticity through research, considering how oppressive imagery may affect youth audiences, ensuring institutional support, providing options for discontinuing visitor participation, establishing the role of the audience in participating in the program, developing community support, and allowing for visitors to debrief with one another following their experience.


Keywords: research, living history museums, interpretation, live interpretation, museum theater, slavery


Yeaman, T. (2015). Daring to be dramatic: An examination of the live interpretation of slavery at two living history museums (Order No. 1600490). Available from Dissertations & Theses @ University of Washington WCLP; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1732168268). Retrieved from