Museology and the Problem of Interiority

Palmyre Pierroux
InterMedia, University of Oslo, Norway

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Ingår i: NaMu; Making National Museums Program; Setting the Frames; 26-28 February; Norrköping; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 22:19, s. 217–223

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Publicerad: 2007-09-19


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Museum and culture studies traditionally approach social issues related to national museum narratives by critically analyzing the historical development and orderings of collections and their functions. Studies may investigate museums representational practices in interpretations of the other; for example; or the role of official and state narratives in history museums constructions of national identity; or scientific paradigms in natural history museums orderings and material culture. Often these histories are told from the perspectives of insiders who relate the motives of actors engaged in producing narratives of a national character; namely; collectors; state authorities and museum founders (Roberts 1997).

However; the consumption of narratives is typically not included in these accounts. While perspectives on national museums may acknowledge that visitors bring their identities; memories; and previous knowledge into the museum experience; meaning making and identity formation are not the analytical focus. As a consequence; conceptualizations of visitor agency often remain implicit and under-theorized in analyses of how national museums make new realities thinkable (Bennett 2005). The purpose of this paper is to develop a perspective on visitors agency that moves away from a focus on practices of inwardness and kinds of interiority; in other words what goes on inside the individual in entanglements with museum objects; to instead locate experience in the entanglements themselves


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