chapter  16
12 Pages

Playing dress-up: inhabiting imagined spaces through museum objects

It may initially seem paradoxical to consider that museums, with all their vast stores of objects, are actually immaterial in nature. However, the typical museum visitor is often reduced to only their visual sense to respond to their surroundings, filled with physical objects. In the literature of the ‘New Museology’, this has resulted in critiques of museums as didactic institutions, filled with unreflexive curator-centric discourse, where audiences are passively indoctrinated into hegemonic sociocultural world views. This literature is now nearly three decades old, and a new generation of ideas reclaiming visitor agency in museums is emerging, describing subtle and nuanced ways in which museums can facilitate, and not just impart meaning.