The Politics of Display: Museums, Science and Culture

The Politics of Display: Museums, Science and Culture

by Sharon Macdonald, S. MacDonald
     
 

The assumption that museum exhibitions, particularly those concerned with science and technology, are somehow neutral and impartial is today being challenged both in the public arena and in the academy. The Politics of Display brings together studies of contemporary and historical exhibitions and contends that exhibitions are never, and never have been,

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Overview

The assumption that museum exhibitions, particularly those concerned with science and technology, are somehow neutral and impartial is today being challenged both in the public arena and in the academy. The Politics of Display brings together studies of contemporary and historical exhibitions and contends that exhibitions are never, and never have been, above politics. Rather, technologies of display and ideas about 'science' and 'objectivity' are mobilized to tell stories of progress, citizenship, racial and national difference. The display of the Enola Gay, the aircraft which dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima is a well-known case in point.
The Politics of Display charts the changing relationship between displays and their audience and analyzes the consequent shift in styles of representation towards interactive, multimedia and reflexive modes of display. The Politics of Display brings together an array of international scholars in the disciplines of sociology, anthropology and history. Examples are taken from exhibitions of science, technology and industry, anthropology, geology, natural history and medicine, and locations include the United States of America, Australia, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Spain.
This book is an excellent contribution to debates about the politics of public culture. It will be of interest to students of sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, museum studies and science studies.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780415153263
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
12/28/1997
Series:
Heritage: Care-Preservation-Management Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

List of figures
Notes on contributors
Preface
1Exhibitions of power and powers of exhibition: an introduction to the politics of display1
2Speaking to the eyes: museums, legibility and the social order25
3The visibility of difference: nineteenth-century French anthropological collections36
4Reifying race: science and art in Races of Mankind at the Field Museum of Natural History53
5Making nature 'real' again: natural history exhibits and public rhetorics of science at the Smithsonian Institution in the early 1960s77
6On interactivity: consumers, citizens and culture98
7Supermarket science? Consumers and 'the public understanding of science'118
8Nations on display: technology and culture in Expo '92139
9Strangers in paradise: an encounter with fossil man at the Dutch Museum of Natural History159
10Can science museums take history seriously?173
11Birth and Breeding: politics on display at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine183
12Balancing acts: science, Enola Gay and History Wars at the Smithsonian197
Afterword: from war to debate?229
Index237

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