"Flight 93 National Memorial, the African Burial Ground National Monument, and the Pursuit of Child-Appropriate Memorial Designs," by Kaley Kilpatrick

 

"Flight 93 National Memorial, the African Burial Ground National Monument, and the Pursuit of Child-Appropriate Memorial Designs," by Kaley Kilpatrick

Millions of tourists, including children brought along by parents or teachers, journey to dark tourist sites marked by trauma and death year after year. It is an irony that for many of these dark sites, designers boast graphics of children on project proposals, professionals exhibit photographs of children on promotional materials, and agencies release children’s activity books as if all of these stakeholders hold concern for child tourists. Yet, the way children experience the design and interpretation of a dark tourist site, nonetheless troublesome, is the focus of little attention for designers of dark sites and scholars studying them. The highly emotional and intense historical events that constitute a dark tourist site make interpreting to a young audience a heavy task. Already too young to fully understand a dark site in its wider historical context, children are not prepared to face jarring images of terrorism, to come across faces and names of the dead, or to understand the solemness of human remains included in memorial design. However, virtually no published research on children as dark tourists exists.

This paper compares two dark sites containing human remains as a stepping stone in exploring the relationship between child tourists and dark sites that has barely awakened academic and public interest or anxiety. With an analysis of how their design features and presentations relate to children interpreting the sites, the juxtaposition of the Flight 93 National Memorial in Southwestern Pennsylvania and the African Burial Ground National Monument in New York City is revealing of a divide between design and presentation of dark sites and the actual experience of children interpreting these sites. Ultimately, the comparison exposes new principles for shaping future dark sites with appropriate designs and presentations that remain mindful of little eyes, truly exemplifying darker aspects of the human experience in a sensible manner.

For more information about Kaley, click here.

Categories: 
  • HAAARCH!!! 2015
  • Undergraduate Work