Introducing the Museum


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This session reviews the interview you conducted last week and begins to look at the question: what is a museum?

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  • Introducing the Museum

    1. 1. Communicating Culture The problems of representation The museum experience
    2. 2. Interview Task: feedback <ul><li>How did you approach the exercise? </li></ul><ul><li>What was most difficult for you? </li></ul><ul><li>Would you change anything the next time you interview someone? </li></ul><ul><li>What did you learn about the museum experience? </li></ul>
    3. 3. Interviews <ul><li>Is there such a thing as the ideal type of interview? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What is your research trying to do? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What kinds of disclosures are we hoping to elicit by interviewing people? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Qualitative interviews in sociological research are designed to examine attitudes, opinions, behaviours etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Qualitative interviews in cultural studies are designed to ‘tap into cultural structures and formations’ (Johnson, 1997: 468) </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Issues of Reflexivity and Intensity <ul><li>‘ Standardised and reflexive interviewing’ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ ethnographers do not usually decide beforehand the exact questions they want to ask, and do not ask each interviewee exactly the same questions, though they will usually enter the interview with a list of issues to be covered.’ (Hammersley and Atkinson: 1993: 152) </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Reflexivity <ul><li>In a good reflexive project the researcher can be said to be entering into a range of dialogues: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dialogues with the subjects of the research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dialogues with theoretical frameworks or perspectives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dialogues with colleagues </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dialogues you can enter into when writing or presenting your work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gray (2003): 22 </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. The Problem of Representation (1) <ul><li>Qualitative researchers are often involved in representing the experience of others </li></ul><ul><li>We cannot have direct access to another’s experience – we deal with their ambiguous talk, text, interaction and interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>Qualitative research is a process in which experience is analysed through a number of transformations </li></ul>
    7. 7. The Problem of Representation (2) <ul><li>Reading about experience: plurivocality of the text – several readings possible </li></ul><ul><li>Analysing experience: constructing theoretically </li></ul><ul><li>Transcribing experience: representing it as text – fixing </li></ul><ul><li>Telling about experience: constructing a narrative </li></ul><ul><li>Attending experience: selecting/making certain phenomena meaningful </li></ul><ul><li>Primary experience </li></ul>
    8. 8. Transcribing experience <ul><li>How could you transcribe the interview? </li></ul><ul><li>What decisions would influence the transcription? </li></ul><ul><li>Can transcripts ‘capture’ the interview? </li></ul><ul><li>How can transcripts be used? </li></ul>
    9. 9. Information: what did you find out about the museum experience? <ul><li>Definitions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1. a. Ancient Hist. (Usu. in form Museum .) In the ancient Hellenic world: a building connected with or dedicated to the Muses or the arts inspired by them; a university building, esp. that established at Alexandria by Ptolemy Soter c 280 B.C. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>     b. gen. A building, or part of a building, dedicated to the pursuit of learning or the arts; a scholar's study. Also in extended use. Obs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. a. A building or institution in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic, or cultural interest are preserved and exhibited. Also: the collection of objects held by such an institution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>     b. In extended use (usu. derogatory ): any large or motley collection of things, esp. outmoded or useless ones; the repository of such a collection. </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Examples of Museums <ul><li>Arboretums. </li></ul><ul><li>Art galleries/museums. </li></ul><ul><li>General museums. </li></ul><ul><li>Encyclopaedic museums. </li></ul><ul><li>Historic building or sites. </li></ul><ul><li>Preservation projects. </li></ul><ul><li>Herbariums. </li></ul><ul><li>Zoological garden. </li></ul><ul><li>Aquariums. </li></ul><ul><li>Planetariums </li></ul><ul><li>Children's museums </li></ul><ul><li>Nature centre/ visitor’s centres. </li></ul>
    11. 11. Museums and their Function <ul><li>One role of museums: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>assembling objects and maintaining them within a specific intellectual environment (world view). </li></ul></ul><ul><li>This statement is pertinent in tracing the history of museums because world views change over time. </li></ul><ul><li>A world view is an implicit (rational) manner by which a society perceives its surroundings and functions within its surroundings. </li></ul><ul><li>Museum development can be divided into six phases corresponding to shifts in world view. </li></ul>
    12. 12. Historical Periods <ul><li>Six periods of natural history museum development according to Whitehead (1990). </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Greco-Roman Period (to 400 A.D.). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-Renaissance Period (400-1400). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Renaissance Period (1400-1600). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pre-Linnaean Period (1600-1750). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Linnaean Period (1750-1850). </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Modern Period (1850-present). </li></ul></ul></ul>
    13. 13. World View Periods <ul><li>According to Hooper-Greenhill (1992) there were three distinct periods of museum development: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Renaissance Episteme 1400-1600. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Classical Episteme 1600-1750 = Pre-Linnaean Period. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Modern Episteme 1750-present = Linnaean + Modern periods. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>[An episteme is a world view.] </li></ul>
    14. 14. The Renaissance Period Kunstkammer of Frans Franken the Younger (early 17 th century). Paintings, figurines, shells, dried fishes, and other natural and human Productions were brought together to represent the world. (From Hooper- Greenhill, 1992).
    15. 15. The Renaissance Period <ul><li>Museum of Francesco Calzolari (Verona, 1622). </li></ul>
    16. 16. The Renaissance Period <ul><li>(Museum of Olaus Worm, Leiden, 1655). From Whitaker 1996. </li></ul>
    17. 17. The Tradescant Collection <ul><li>Look at reading A in the handout and answer the following questions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Extracts 1 and 2 detail the categories used by Tradescant the younger. What are they? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consider extracts 3 and 4 to discern what type of material is included in these categories. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How does the classification differ from one you might expect to find today? </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. What does the ‘Tradescant musaeum’ represent? <ul><li>The natural and artificial world </li></ul><ul><ul><li>These were collections with encyclopaedic ambition, intended as a miniature version of the universe, containing specimens of every category of things and helping render visible the totality of the universe, which otherwise would remain hidden from human eyes. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>(Pomian, 1990. Cited in Hall, 1997: 158) </li></ul></ul></ul>
    19. 19. What is the nature of museums? <ul><li>Lidchi (1997: 159) highlights the following important points about the nature of museums: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Representation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Classification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Motivation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interpretation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ a museum does not solely deal with objects but, more importantly, with what we could call, … ideas – notions of what the world is or should be.’ (ibid: 160) </li></ul>
    20. 20. Next week… <ul><li>We will consider the second part of the coursework assignment: the interview study </li></ul><ul><li>We will continue to explore the nature of museums and their collections </li></ul><ul><li>Readings: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hall, S., Ed. (1997). Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices . London, Sage. Ch 3 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, B. (1998). Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums and Heritage . San Francisco, University of California Press. pp. 1-78 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Duncan, C. (1995). Civilising Rituals: Inside public art museums . London, Routledge. Ch. 1 </li></ul></ul>