The Préhistomuseum’s raison d’être is to enable everyone to experience humanity through an encounter with Prehistory and archaeology.
The Préhistomuseum is a MuseoPark that exists for, through and with its users. It is an archaeological museum that takes its stand as an institution engaged on a societal, ethical and civic level, putting its collections into perspective by aligning itself with the questionings of our society. It unequivocally sets out its scientific and societal approach and how it manages doubt. In affirming that humanity is universal but expresses itself differently in time and space, the Museum is a museum of humankind that seeks to understand and help others understand the complexity of human behaviour. To do so, it focuses on facts from Prehistory and archaeology that have meaning for us today and that can stimulate philosophical reflection on the destiny of our humanity. The Museum seeks to reach out to the greatest number by making the heritage entrusted to it, and for which it is responsible, intellectually, socially and physically accessible. It seeks to advance and develop its knowledge, knowhow and attitudes in order to enrich the experience for its users. The Museum defines its approach as Pop Archaeology, in other words “trying to make a museum for those who don’t like museums, as well as for those who do!”
The Préhistomuseum’s raison d’être is made up of four interlocking and mutually complementary components that lay the foundation for its cultural, scientific and tourist project.
The first of these components is to enable everyone to learn about our heritage and its resources.
The Museum is home to major collections from both Prehistoric times and other periods in our history, as well as an archaeological site, documentary resources and a vast natural heritage. All these resources are called into play to enable visitors to learn, to learn how to learn, and to learn how to act and react.
Visitors are invited to question the very concept of heritage through the diversity of its expressions and the relativity of its importance depending on different points of view. The Préhistomuseum suggests that “heritage does not exist” but rather that it is our need (desire) to acquire, conserve, study and share it that actually generates heritage. It seeks to understand and help others understand the phenomenon of patrimonialisation and its importance in the development and the understanding of our society.
Heritage(s) has/have a part to play in the construction of heritage identities linked to the specific characteristics of territories and of a particular period. Beyond time and space, however, the Museum is careful to underline the universals common to all of humanity, rather than exacerbate particularities. In so doing, it hopes to make a significant contribution to a popular education in which the diversity of cultural expressions it offers to our gaze and to our understanding nurtures a critical thinking that nuances our assumptions and our certainties. The words progress, evolution and civilisation are thus subjected to questioning that may prove useful in addressing the ongoing debate within our society on “living together”.
The second component of the cultural and scientific project is to enable everyone to understand humanity’s ecosystem.
The Museum seeks to understand and help others understand human behaviour in all its dimensions: social, cultural, economic and environmental. The archaeological facts selected as subjects for research, exhibition or enactment, are approached systematically in order to explain the complex and simultaneous interactions between the elements of the ecosystems within which human societies are constantly mutating.
Explaining transdisciplinarity and interdisciplinarity contributes to the development of a scientific culture in which an understanding of the scientific approach should allow for the acceptance of “doubt”, the basis for all research.
The “ecosystemic” approach calls equally on all the heritage resources of the Museum and on the diversity of the preconceptions held by all its different users. The Museum admits to what it does not know and why it engages in research. It cooperates with its users to enrich their shared thinking through experience of heritages.
The third component of the cultural and scientific project is to enable everyone to switch off, take time to recharge and regroup as an individual or group of individuals.
Because Prehistoric times evoke in the collective imagination a sense of deprivation, survival, simplicity, a lost paradise or a primitive existence, and because the Museum’s infrastructure offers many contrasting spaces (surrounded by nature, in the dark, barefoot, deep in the reserves, etc.), the Préhistomuseum is a setting that lends itself to discovery, pleasure, wellbeing and meditation.
“The presiding spirit of the place” guarantees favourable and varied conditions for exploring our existential questions – “Where do we come from?”, “Who are we?”, Where are we headed?” - facilitated by a sensory and emotional approach that provokes thought. Sharing the experience of “primitive humanity” by reproducing simple gestures invites awareness of the immanence of complex thought; immersion in nature summons up human culture by questioning what is innate and what acquired. The Museum naturally raises the question of happiness: “when all is said and done, are we happier than our ancestors?”
This is why the Préhistomuseum defines itself as a Museum, a “Museum of Humankind” and as “the adventure playground of Prehistory to experience humanity”.
The fourth component of the cultural and scientific project is to give everyone an opportunity to call on professional expertise and professional and/or qualifying services.
The Préhistomuseum seeks to develop its knowledge, knowhow and attitudes to justify to the best of its ability its raison d’être in the service of its different audiences. This undertaking requires us to constantly improve our organisation, to continue developing specific methodologies appropriate to the best possible performance of museum tasks that have real meaning. Positioning ourselves as a museum enterprise implies methods of organisation and management appropriate to the project and the challenges it poses. The economic approach, through the prism of the economy of functionality and cooperation, improving the organisation by means of quality management and collective intelligence, adopting a method of collaborative management by using the social technology of holacracy, are entrepreneurial experiments that, if they prove successful, could perhaps inspire other cultural and tourist enterprises in the future.
The Préhistomuseum is a kind of laboratory of museum management.
The Experimental Archaeology Laboratory (LAE), the Centre for Conservation, Study and Documentation (CCED) and the Mediation Laboratory (LM) are all developing working and training services and methods that are just waiting to be shared with colleagues from other institutions or with students in the fields of Prehistory, museology, mediation, tourism and heritage, and the economy.
The Préhistomuseum researches, undertakes and experiments with modesty and ambition, its main objective being to make its own particular contribution to its users and to heritage.