chapter  18
13 Pages

Exhibiting absence in the museum

ByHELEN REES LEAHY

Within the material world of the museum, a fantasy of completion is constantly replayed in the intersection of collections and spaces. Objects are marshalled to fill the entire gallery, to tell the whole story, and to satiate the visitor’s hunger for knowledge and distraction. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett writes:

When envisioned in terms of its collection, the ideal museum was a Noah’s Ark, with a complete set of specimens providing the entire DNA needed to regenerate the world in its entirety, or a Temple of Solomon, imagined as a miniature world, a complete archive of knowledge, and a treasure house.