Download The birth of the museum: history, theory, politics by Tony Bennett PDF

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By Tony Bennett

"Tony Bennett's invigorating examine enriches and demanding situations our figuring out of the museum, putting it on the heart of recent kinfolk of tradition and govt.

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Sample text

Serve both to refer to a realm o f significance that is invisible and absent (the past, say) and to m ediate the v isito r’s or spectator’s access to that realm by m aking it m etonym ically v isib le and present. It has to be added, however, that collection s on ly function in this manner for those w ho p o s s e s s the appropriate so cially-cod ed w ays o f seein g - and, in some cases, power to see - w hich allow the objects on display to be not just seen but seen th rough to establish som e com m union with the invisible to which th ey beckon.

Their presence, and their meaning’ as Eilean H ooper-G reenhill puts it, ‘w as indicated through the sym bolic images painted on the cupboard d oors’ (H ooper-G reenhill 1992: 106). The sphere o f the actually v isib le (the paintings on the doors) m ediated the prince’s e x clu siv e access to the, in principle, v isib le but, in practice, in visib le contents o f those cupboards - and thence to the order o f the cosm os which those contents represented. : 106). W hen, in the eighteenth century, royal co llectio n s were translated into more public dom ains, this in volved a transform ation in their functioning for the objects they contained then assum ed the function o f embodying a representative publicness o f and for the pow er o f the king.

For, in so far as it w as en visaged as a reform atory o f manners, the complex relations betw een the cross-class and cross-gender form s o f com m ingling the m useum allow ed for are crucial to an understanding o f the types of behaviourial reform ations it was to effec t and o f the m eans by which it was to do so. The m ost interesting developm ent here con sisted in the organization o f a role for the w orking-class w om an as a m ediating agent helping to pass on the im proving influence o f m idd le-class culture to the recalcitrant workingclass man.

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