chapter  3
18 Pages

The Political Rationality of the Museum

In her essay "The Museum in the Disciplinary Society ', Eilean HooperGreenhilI argues that the ruptures of the French Revolution 'created the conditions of emergence for a new "truth ", a new rationality, out of which came a new functionality for a new institution, the public museum' (HooperGreenhilI 1989: 63). Established as a means of sharing what had previously been private, of exposing what had been concealed, the public museum 'exposed both the decadence and tyranny of the old forms of control, the ancien regime, and the democracy and utility of the new, the Republic ' (ibid.: 68). Appropriating royal, aristocratic and church collections in the name of the people, destroying those items whose royal or feudal associations threatened the Republic with contagion and arranging for the display of the remainder in accordance with rationalist principles of classification, the Revolution transformed the museum from a symbol of arbitrary power into an instrument which, through the education of its citizens, was to serve the collective good of the state .