Embodiment in the Museum - What is a Museum?
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Challenges to museum curatorial control of meaning, combined with interest in the reading positions of visitors, have led to the growth of interactive interpretation strategies. Such strategies, however, often privilege curatorial pre-determined responses and presuppose that visitors are disembodied, that actual bodies moving through exhibition spaces are not, in fact, the palpable reality of a museum experience. Visitors have a kind of textual invisibility. Consideration of visitor performativity and embodiment in museums poses an exhilarating museological challenge. Museums need to come to terms with the bodily aspects of a museum visit, understanding that visitors enact their narrations of the museum as they walk through it. This paper argues that, by textually denying the corporeal presence of visitors, museums continually misrecognise their own institutional identity as they theorize themselves as separate from the visitor. Examination of the walking visitor shows that a museum is not separate from the visitor, but comes into being through her or his walking presence. What impact does this have on the definition of a museum?
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