Public Sessions, Archaeology Fairs,
                and Traveling Exhibit Tips


  • SHA Public Session Guidelines: Draft Document (2000)
    Written by David T. Clark and Mark Wilde-Ramsing on behalf of the Society for Historical Archaeology, this document provides guidance on organizing sessions for the general public held during the Society's annual conference. Both authors have devoted their careers to making sure that pre-collegiate and adult audiences are allowed to visit their world of archaeology and walk away feeling that they to are part of our explorations. In creating these guidelines, Clark and Wilde-Ramsing drew on their past involvement in organizing five SHA public sessions - Cincinnati 1996, Corpus Christi1997, Atlanta 1998, Salt Lake City 1999 and Quebec City 2000. The demographic diversity encountered at each metropolitan location provided varying logistical challenges, such as getting patrons to come to the inner city, business district on a Saturday or rallying public interest where historical and volunteer networks are weak or non-existence. These guidelines won't solve every local problem but will go a long way in preparing organizers with a better understanding of what they should be aware of, how they can counter potential shortcomings, what means might be used to get the word out, and what programming is effective to the best provide archaeological educational outreach in your community. Contribution courtesy of David Clark, Mark Wilde-Ramsing and the SHA Public Education and Interpretation Committee (PEIC).
  • Archaeologyland!
    Eight hands-on, archaeology and cultural history-based activities designed for archaeologists to use with the public at archaeology fairs and other non-formal classroom events. Each activity is laid out in 'recipe fashion' with directions about the minimum recommended age, a list of objectives about what the activity is trying to teach, and preparation and procedure steps, including what materials need to be purchased or otherwise arranged for. Each activity has been successfully tested with children and each promotes a preservation message: How to report a find, how to protect a resource, and how to contact the State Historic Preservation Office.

More than 1500 people attended the Public Session held during the 2006 Society for Historical Archaeology annual conference in Sacramento, California. Two rooms of activities were offered. The first room featured high tech media (“Step into the Next Dimension”) hosted by Archaeocommons and UC Berkeley. The second room (an “Archaeology Roadshow”) presented 32 booths and displays in a 60 x 60 foot space that at times barely contained the very large crowd. Hands on activities, reprised posters sessions, material culture displays, videos, teacher resource materials, and costumed personnel entertained and educated the many visitors who ranged in age from 5 to 77 and included, among others, scouts, retired couples, educators, government workers, lawyers, architects, and stay at home moms. For the benefit of future Public Session organizers, Mary Praezellis and Adrian Praetzellis, the coordinators of this Public Session, have compiled this short report detailing the pre-event strategies employed by their team. They have also posted:

Slideshow of the Roadshow (bottom of the page)

Event Flier

Schedule of Activities

  • PEC Traveling Exhibit

    The Society for American Archaeology Public Education Committee (PEC) has a traveling exhibit on archaeology education that is available for SAA members to use at conferences, archaeology month activities, or other special events. The borrower pays the shipping costs. For more information on borrowing the exhibit, or to schedule it for an event, please contact the SAA Manager, Education and Outreach.
  • Producing Effective Exhibits for Archaeology Fairs
    (Point your browser to pages 11 and 12)

    This article by Amy Douglass offering practical advice about eye-catching and informative exhibits was published in the SAA Archaeological Record 3(2):11-12, 2003.


Updated 03/25/2007