chapter  1
18 Pages

Museum materialities: objects, sense and feeling


A truly materialist approach necessitates a subtle, but important, re-jigging of emphasis in many areas of study, especially museums, inuenced in part by phenomenology. Such a shift is already established in material culture studies – especially those areas inuenced by sensory culture studies (e.g. Csordas 1994, Howes 1991 and 2003, Edwards & Hart 2004, Jackson 1996, Stoller 1989) – and indeed the possibilities of such a truly material emphasis were highlighted some time ago (e.g. Miller 1998). Yet this is an approach has not yet signicantly inuenced contemporary studies of museum collections and practices, with a few exceptions (e.g. the anthropologically focused Ames 1992 and Cliord’s discussion of museums – and objects – as contact zones [1997], the more recent Edwards, Gosden and Phillips 2006a, and the more applied and less cross-cultural Pye 2007 and Chatterjee 2008). It is, as we shall see, a change of focus in which ‘the frame of museum contact’ (between cultures, periods, objects and persons) potentially ‘is recalibrated from museum space to museum object’ (Feldman 2006: 255; see especially Witcomb, and Wehner and Sear, this volume).