Metaphor in Social History Museums
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Before the implementation of paper-based archives in the nineteenth century there were many lyrical ways of knowing the past, for example, through song and painting. In the museum developments of the nineteenth century, artefacts took the corresponding knowledge place of the "truth" believed to exist in archived paper. Museum work proceeded with the common sense certainty of a rational one-to-one correspondence between an artefact and its meaning. Reliance on the denotative capacity of the artefact was thus the strategy for conveying meaning to visitors. Museums are now moving away from denotation as a primary communication strategy, one of the modes that emerges being metaphor. Just as the fixed meaning of artefacts was once understood to reside in their sheer materiality, now we see materiality resurfacing in museums, but this time via metaphor which is theorized as resting on the material experience of the world by our human bodies.
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