In February 2001, the first European meeting was organised by the initiative group, in Oerlinghausen, Germany.
Fifteen participants from six different countries convened. It was underlined again how much the archaeological museums have in common and how lonely they feel in their own environment. They are not seen as 'adult' by traditional museums. After all, the work is not about the old fashioned museum tasks, like collecting, keeping and researching of an own collection of original items. It is more about education on the one hand and research about the period and themes of the archaeological open-air museum on the other. Besides that, it became painfully clear, that even though professional archaeologists are often closely involved in planning and building 1:1 constructions, soon after opening, they tend to leave such a project, ever to come back again. This way, the archaeological open-air museums fall between two sides. Most museums realised, another common aspect was that they were mostly self supporting. This is a great contrast with the traditional ("showcase") museums and scientific institutes. There were, however, more similarities in the daily practice. The points of attention of the Oerlinghausen meeting were amongst others keeping up quality, educational programs and management & public relations. One thought is for example to exchange specialists, both on archaeotechnical level as in management. For example in Poland, one has collected a lot of experience and knowledge when organising their large archaeological festivals, maybe this knowledge and experience is applicable in Germany? Or can the biannual conference 'archaeology and education' in Barcelona be useful as well for colleagues from Hungary? 'Quality' is especially in Germany a hot issue. Just like everywhere, all archaeological open-air projects are booked full, long time ahead. In such a market, it is easy to copy ideas from an existing park, offering existing activities in another setting to school groups or tourists. The major problem, is that people starting a new park are 'bad quality thieves'. The quality of what is offered in a place where all initiatives are copied from somewhere else is often below average. Seen in this light, it is acrid when one hears the remark: "if the child is satisfied, already then I have reached my goal". Anybody with just a little bit experience knows that exactly this is not that difficult. The point is, however, that children and other visitors learn something of their experiences when visiting a museum like ours. The people attending this 'Oerlinghausen meeting' were enthusiastic in continuing and decided to create a workgroup to start up an international network. The composition of the first group is partly based on coincidence. Because of circumstances, some people could or could not join us in Germany. Besides these Oerlinghausen participants, by the end of 2001, there was another group established of 31 affiliates from 14 different countries.
Oerlinghausen, February 16 2001
Members have to be dedicated to scientific research. You must have a high standard of knowledge and be aware of latest developments in archaeology.
Members should perform experiments or participate therein. Experiments have to be clearly documented and repeatable.
All techniques shown should be conducted by experienced and skilled people with appropriate materials and tools.
Members need to have reconstructions. You should be able to present the sources of your reconstructions. The presentation should meet high standards, regarding time-truth, materials and techniques. Members should release publications for different target groups, backed with own documentation and have to be open to the public. The presentation has to be both educative and communicative for the visitors, connecting past, present and future.
Members should aim for total quality management (TQM). They are responsible for training their own staff.
EXARC provides an exclusive website for members only, sharing any information. The time periods presented in the museums should not extend after 1492. The subject is limited to European Archaeological Cultures. (Note: the limations on time periods presented and the geographic limitation are abandonded in 2009).
Members should act responsibly concerning resources. Honesty about success and mistakes and self-criticism is expected of all members. The actions of the members should not be dedicated to specific political or religious aims. Members must cooperate with each other.
A quality label will be established, exclusively for members.