As an Associate, I continue to maintain an active interest in the Department in a number of ways, albeit from a distance. I am currently living and working in North Devon, developing approaches to ceramic sculpture and drawing. See my sculpture and drawing work. RCMG came into being to develop research into museums, education and learning; since its inception these interests have broadened with the input of numerous members of Departmental staff.
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Recent scholarship in museum studies has addressed the pitfalls of the modern museum and numerous scholars have proposed methods to reinvent the museum. This scholarship has primarily emerged from the fields of museum studies, history, anthropology, and art history. In Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture , Eilean Hooper-Greenhill contributes to this conversation by applying research from across disciplines, including media studies, educational theory, and indigenous histories, to highlight the cultural politics inherent in European museum displays.
Museums which emerged during the nineteenth century, especially those devoted to natural history and anthropology, often built their collections on materials brought from conquered territories. This appears to have been common among nineteenth-century museums across the West, in both Western Europe and the United States, and has been discussed by a number of scholars of history and museum studies.
Hooper-Greenhill builds on this concept by emphasizing a function that maps and museum collections shared: both enabled the imaging and imagining of power structures made material. From this point forward, Hooper-Greenhill focuses on specific collections and objects to explore how objects are interpreted and made meaningful within the modern museum. In the second chapter, the author closely evaluates the first ten years of collecting at the National Portrait Gallery in London to illustrate how objects can be used in a purposeful way to build a visual narrative about British national identity and history.
Following Hinemihi, the reader encounters a chapter that outlines the divergent paths of two collections of Maori artifacts: one created by a Maori woman named Makereti and another created by an Englishman named Merton Russell-Cotes. In the fifth and sixth chapters, the author analyzes processes of visual interpretation and pedagogy that characterize encounters between subjects and objects.
In museums, Hooper-Greenhill states, these encounters are shaped by the ways in which objects are selected and displayed. The pedagogic approach in the modern museum, initiated in the nineteenth century and continuing through the twentieth century, treats the audience as a unified group.
This approach, the author notes, has over the years become widely regarded as insufficient and irrelevant to broad social needs. In her closing chapter, Hooper-Greenhill summarizes the above themes in relation to two museum models: the modernist museum and the post-museum. The author engages in a final case study of the Lakota Ghost Dance Shirt to examine the meanings imposed upon the shirt as a result of the interpretive framework into which it was placed and the perspectives from which it was seen.
The shirt was formerly held by Glasgow Museums, was repatriated to members of the Lakota tribe in , and now resides in the care of the South Dakota Historical Society. These shirts were believed to be sacred and imbued with protective qualities. When the shirt was removed from the body of a deceased Lakota man and eventually found its way to the Glasgow Museum, these meanings were made invisible by the frameworks into which it was placed.
Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture is a wide-ranging assemblage of research that bridges the gaps between many disciplines. Hooper-Greenhill provides a new lens through which museum studies scholars can view museum displays: through the lens of visual culture, which had been predominantly restricted to media and communication studies.
The post-museum is a new museum model and, as the author describes, remains in an embryonic stage. The author characterizes the post-museum as a process or an experience, taking on different architectural forms, and centers on the spaces, concerns, and ambitions of communities. The post-museum will incorporate many voices and perspectives to produce dynamic events and exhibitions.
These events may include workshops, performances, and dances, and will draw in writers, scientists, and artists. Hooper-Greenhill provides an interesting new direction for the museum in the twenty-first century, but unfortunately does not go further to investigate any museums that had already begun to transition into this model by the year , the time of this publication.
The reader asks, what does the post-museum resemble in practice? It is possible that the post-museum will consist of virtual collections that do not require a physical building, such as the emerging Google Cultural Institute, the Disability History Museum, or the Museum with No Frontiers.
It must do so through community outreach and collaborative research. The audio, photography, and video materials are informed by knowledge of members of the Musqueam Indian Band, an institution dedicated to preserving the living Musqueam culture and community.
What is most significant about this exhibit is the incorporation of local, indigenous voices to provide an interpretive framework for Musqueam artifacts that takes into account Musqueam history and what meanings those objects have carried for those members of the Musqueam community — in addition to the meanings that these objects carry for those in the larger Vancouver community.
Works Cited Disability History Museum, Accessed 8 February Hooper-Greenhill, Eilean. Museums and the Interpretation of Visual Culture. Routledge: London and New York, Luckow, Diane. Share this:.
The Advent of the ‘Post-Museum’ and Interdisciplinary Museum Studies
Professor Emeritus Eilean Hooper Greenhill
Museums and the Shaping of Knowledge
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