Behind the Scenes at the Science Museum by Sharon Macdonald

By Sharon Macdonald

What is going on at the back of closed doorways at museums? How are judgements approximately exhibitions made and who, or what, fairly makes them? Why are definite gadgets and kinds of show selected while others are rejected, and what components effect how museum exhibitions are produced and skilled? This publication solutions those looking out questions by means of giving a privileged glance ‘behind the scenes’ on the technological know-how Museum in London. through monitoring the background of a specific exhibition, Macdonald takes the reader into the area of the museum curator and exhibits in brilliant element how exhibitions are created and the way public tradition is produced. She finds why exhibitions don't regularly mirror their makers’ unique intentions and why viewers take domestic specific interpretations. past this ‘local’ context, notwithstanding, the booklet additionally offers vast and far-reaching insights into how nationwide and international political shifts effect the production of public wisdom via exhibitions

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This term is from Latour (1987: 150) in his account of how to follow scientists and study ‘science in action’. 20. Boylan 1992 is the proceedings of this conference (complete with audience discussion) and gives a good sense of some of the debates under way at the time. It includes a contribution by the Director of the Science Museum, Neil Cossons, which provoked a good deal of debate (Cossons 1992). 21. I use changes of tense to remind of the fact that the action that I describe is located in the past, to convey a sense of engagement and lived present, and to unsettle.

Similarly, while I focus mainly on particular themes – otherwise I feared that the narrative would read too much like a set of details (complexity can overwhelm) – I also try to convey a sense of the narrative. To some extent here I have been stimulated by the textual freedoms of novels such as Kate Atkinson’s Behind the Scenes at the Museum (1995) (which also provided inspiration for my title), which use movement between different time-frames in the unravelling of their plots. 22 Messiness had resonance for the complexity and ethical fuzziness of much that I wanted to say about the Museum; but it also seemed to me that there were certain stories that needed telling and that without some tidying up (which is, of course, inevitable) these would be submerged.

65 The wording in some parts, I was told, ‘looks terribly familiar’, the implication being that the Director had been one of the sources of what was said in the report. One copy which was passed to me, had scribbles on it in the margin by those sections which might have implications for the future of the Science Museum. As well as trying to detect future courses of action, there was concern over the Director due, as one curator described it to me, to the fact that he was the ‘only provider of scarce resources’.

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