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Publication Detail
All that is solid? Museums and the postmodern
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
  • Authors:
    Keene S
  • Publisher:
    James & James
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    185, 198
  • Journal:
    Public Archaeology
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Keywords:
    museums, postmodern, authority, authenticity, simulacra
  • Addresses:
    UCL Institute of Archaeology, 31-34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PY
The world today is often described as ‘postmodern’. The question is, can postmodern ideas help to explain the many inconsistencies and logical binds in which museums find themselves entangled at the start of the 21st century? Museums are deeply implicated in the Modern, as instruments for cataloguing and characterising first, the natural world, and later, the world of invention, design and technology. But the authoritative voice of the exhibition in inconsistent with the diffuse diversity of the postmodernm. The museum’s salvation could, it is argued, lie in its collections. Museums could shrug off their insistance on exhibitions as their major function: their ‘modern’ face. Instead they could move towards being providers of a service to open up the collections themselves and the knowledge and information about them, rather than guarding them as a private treasure.
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