Bibliography

Online Sources

https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/explore-our-museum-collections

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/218683.James_Cook

 

 

 

 

Chadwick, A.F, The Role of The Museum and Art Gallery in Community Education (Nottingham, Department Of Adult Education, University of Nottingham, 1980)

 

Coombes, Annie E, Museums and the Formation of National and Cultural Identities, In Grasping the World, The Idea of the Museum, Ed. By Donald Preziosi and Claire Farago (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004)

 

Daston, Lorraine, and Katherine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (New York, Zone Books, 2001)

 

Descartes, Rene, The Passions of the Soul, Translated by Stephen H. Voss (Indianapolis, Hackett Classics, 2016)

 

Fairley, John A, History Teaching Through Museums (London, Longman, 1977)

 

Foucalt, Michel, Texts/Contexts: Of Other Spaces, In Grasping the World, The Idea of the Museum, Ed. By Donald Preziosi and Claire Farago (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004)

 

Gardener, James B, Contested Terrain: History, Museums, and the Public, In National Council on Public History President’s Annual Address

 

Grindstaff, Beverly K, Creating Identity: Exhibiting the Philippines at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition, In Grasping the World, The Idea of the Museum, Ed. By Donald Preziosi and Claire Farago (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004)

 

Hobsbawm, Eric, Nations and Nationalism since 1780, Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013)

 

Jordanova, Ludmilla, The Look of the Past, Visual and Material Evidence in Historical Practice (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012)

 

 

Mauries, Patrick, Cabinets of Curiosities (London, Thames Hudson, 2002)

 

Patel, Alpesh Kantilal, Towards Embodied, Agonistic Museum Viewing Practices in Contemporary Manchester, England, in From Museum Critique To The Critical Museum, Ed. By Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius and Piotr Piotrowski (Farnham, Ashgate, 2015)

 

 

Rai, Lucy and Ronny Lynn, Understanding Children (Milton Keynes, The Open University, 2006)

 

 

Walsh, Victoria, The Context and Practice of Post-Critical Museology, in From Museum Critique To The Critical Museum, Ed. By Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius and Piotr Piotrowski (Farnham, Ashgate, 2015)

 

 

White, Hayden, The Fictions of Factual Representations, In Grasping the World, The Idea of the Museum, Ed. By Donald Preziosi and Claire Farago (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004)

 

Wiesner-Hanks, Merry E, Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006)

 

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The Theatre of the World, A Concluding Thought

Jan_Brueghel_I_&_Peter_Paul_Rubens_-_Sight_(Museo_del_Prado)

 

On reflection, of my own experience within the Museum and witnessing other members of the public’s reaction towards the Museum. I would like to conclude on a thought first displayed in The Sense of Sight one of five literal descriptions of senses painted by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens in 1617. (Mauries, 2013, P. 1) What is displayed within this work is a reaction towards naturalia, scientific apparatus, coins, jewellery, antiquities and works of Art. There are visual similarities today in modern Museums. Items from round the world are delivered for public viewing in aim for the public to gain a perspective of Art and History from round the world. It is truly a positive assault on the senses. However, this sensation is meticulously organised, as a member of the public does not just walk into a Museum, they walk into a curated space. What has particularly stood out to me in my experience at the National Maritime Museum is the role that the curatorial staff plays representing what Hayden White terms ‘the fictions of factual representation’ (White, 2004, P. 22) Only this time in my analysis, it is the overlap between the Historian’s research and the Curator’s display. Furthermore, highlighting how they resemble and interact with each other. (White, 2004, P. 22) This is a key element that encompasses everything I have talked about within this blog. As aspects of curatorial design, education, public perception, and Museum identity are all influenced by the Museum’s representation. The Museum has always played a part in creating an experience for the public and preserving knowledge. In doing this it creates an experience like no other. For staff and visitors alike, we are transferred into a world of History, Art, Wonder, and Curiosity. The entrance to the Royal Museum’s at Greenwich like many other Museums is a portal to a theatrical performance orchestrated by the Curator. On entering one forms a part of the orchestrated pageantry within the Theatre of the World known as the Museum.

 

Bibliography

 

Mauries, Patrick, Cabinets of Curiosities (London, Thames Hudson, 2002)

 

 

White, Hayden, The Fictions of Factual Representations, In Grasping the World, The Idea of the Museum, Ed. By Donald Preziosi and Claire Farago (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004)

 

The Curator, The Historian, and the Public

In my previous post I featured a poem that stated that the ‘curators image at Greenwich that shall prevail’ This statement is not as simple as it may seem. During my time here at Greenwich, I have witnessed many members of the public from all walks of life engage with History. The engagement with History is manifested in many ways. For example, the National Maritime Museum do not just provide visual items of historical value. They allow the public to access the Caird Library. The Caird Library not only provides access to a vast collection of naval records, but also has a large selection of books providing information on an array of subjects. It is within the library and archive that the Museum gives the public a chance to also research their own history through ancestry research. This coupled along with the curated space within the museum provides the public with an experience within History that allows members of the public to enter a dialogue with the Curator and the Historian. Art historian, Critic, and Curator Alpesh Kantilal Patel describes the public role in a Museum visit describing that the viewer is a formative part of achieving meaning from the History on display within the Museum. (Patel, 2015, P. 179) This achievement of meaning forms part, of a key event in the public’s role of achieving an understanding through entering a dialogue with the Historian who has produced the research for the Curator to display. However, this powerful trinity of can often see roles reversed.

What if a Historian is the visitor within the Museum? Does that mean the Historian will interpret things differently? The Historian perhaps, has the ability to ask different questions of the artefacts and exhibitions. Historian Victoria Walsh describes how the future ‘trajectory’ of the relationship between Museums and Universities in the twenty-first century has never been so intertwined (Walsh, 2015, P. 195) This plausibly allows the Museum and Scholars to formulate research projects to further expand and display their knowledge to the public. Working here at the National Maritime Museum has certainly allowed me to view as a spectator this tri-connected dialogue. Having taken part in organising lectures, and conferences. This important exchange of knowledge is continued everyday within the walls of every Museum. The Display, the Knowledge, and the perception. It is the Curator, the Historian and the Public.

 

Bibliography

 

Patel, Alpesh Kantilal, Towards Embodied, Agonistic Museum Viewing Practices in Contemporary Manchester, England, in From Museum Critique To The Critical Museum, Ed. By Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius and Piotr Piotrowski (Farnham, Ashgate, 2015)

 

Walsh, Victoria, The Context and Practice of Post-Critical Museology, in From Museum Critique To The Critical Museum, Ed. By Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius and Piotr Piotrowski (Farnham, Ashgate, 2015)

 

Sailing Through History

As the River’s breeze brushes the face

You walk into the grounds of maritime grace

 

For all the flags blow towards pillars of power

As the colours of the buildings are of white flour

 

A visitor enters through the arch

It is ten o’clock, and visitors walk through like a processional march

 

What do they see? History, Art, Wonder?

Or the magnificent Captains Plunder

 

There are ships with sails

Coupled with pictures of giant whales

 

Wonderous, enigmatic tales of the sea

Are discussed among the visitors enjoying afternoon tea

 

The items, The Tales, The History of the Curators scale

For it is the curators image at Greenwich that shall prevail

Curators of Wonder

Ferrante Imperato

 

 

In 1599 Ferrante Imperato in Naples published a catalogue titled Dell’historia naturale the picture above is the frontispiece for his catalogue. The picture shows one of the first collections of objects that were available to the public. (Mauries, 2002, P. 2) It is plausible to believe that Ferrante Imperato had constructed the world’s first Museum, from his collection of collected items from round the world. Despite, Museums having made large advancements in size and display, there is something that Imperato’s Museum still has in common with Museums today. This is the ability for the collected items to ignite a sense of wonder within the viewer. Wonder, is a complex experience that is very subjective towards an individual. However, as Historian Lorraine Daston has described it is a manifestation of our curiosity (Daston, 2001, P. 9). On entering the National Maritime Museum, one cannot help but feel this ignition of curiosity within one’s mind, that leads us to marvel at an object. One example within the National Maritime Museum is the ‘Scare Devil’.

 

Scare Devil Pic

 

On first impressions what does this artefact do for you? What questions come to mind? Where does it come from? And what is its purpose? I will not answer these questions, I will leave that to the reader. The reason for this is to ignite curiosity within the viewer. Curiosity has been a powerful trait in history. If it wasn’t for curiosity, explorers would not have embarked on their missions of exploration. One such explorer was Captain James Cook.

 

Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.”

James Cook, 1768 (https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/218683.James_Cook ) Accessed 10/04/2018

 

 

The National Maritime Museum plays a role in activating Curiosity within the many people who enter its premises. What the Museum displays is a detailed visual narrative that first displays the Explorer’s, followed by their ships and the items they returned. In doing so they inadvertently tell a story that leads the viewer of the artefacts to form their own imaginative story of the artefacts origin, before they read the information below the object. So, in this sense it is plausible to believe that Museums in the past and present are the curators of our own imagination. Many great thinkers have considered this notion in their works Rene Descartes in his work The Passion of the Soul in 1642 wrestled with the idea that Wonder that emanates from stories, objects, and images attracts attention from the mind that views something exotic. (Descartes, 2016, P. 56)

 

a sudden surprise of the soul which makes it tend to consider attentively those objects which seem to it rare and extra-ordinary’

Rene Descartes, 1642

 

Descartes describes a possible feeling toward an object of wonder. It is plausible that it is this feeling, that engulfs the mind of the viewer on every occasion they step into the modern Museums of today. The Royal Museums Greenwich house 2.5 million items. (https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/explore-our-museum-collections) Accessed 10/04/2018

 

Each, one of these items are instigators of curiosity, and wonder. Two categories that ultimately lead to an expansion of knowledge. Furthermore, an expansion of our imagination.

 

Online Sources

https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/explore-our-museum-collections

 

https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/218683.James_Cook

 

Bibliography

 

Daston, Lorraine, and Katherine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150-1750 (New York, Zone Books, 2001)

 

Descartes, Rene, The Passions of the Soul, Translated by Stephen H. Voss (Indianapolis, Hackett Classics, 2016)

 

Mauries, Patrick, Cabinets of Curiosities (London, Thames Hudson, 2002)

Curating for the Sake of Identity

Elizabeth_I_(Armada_Portrait)

The past few weeks working in the offices at Royal Museums Greenwich have been a revelation, and a learning curve. However, after a few weeks of settling in, me and my fellow History at Work compatriot got our first major assignment. The assignment has come in two parts, the first part of the assignment was to research and list any buildings that Elizabeth I may recognise today. The second part of the assignment was to list all the institutions that stock a portrait of Elizabeth I. Excited, to say the least we got stuck into research for both parts of the assignments. It was only after a full day of research on the project, I started to ask myself questions regarding the importance of the task I had been awarded. The re-occurring theme that entered my mind was Identity. Why is Elizabeth I so important for the Identity of this Museum? Furthermore, what does Identity do for a Museum? On research into this notion I uncovered a stimulating read. Art Historian Annie E. Coombes highlights the moment when ‘Identity’ became of central importance within Museums. This was 1902 as parliamentary parties aimed to promote the notion of a ‘homogenous national identity’ (Coombes, 2004, P. 278) It is also plausible that Museums today still echo a politically infused national identity. Particularly, with Britain’s political climate changing toward a more nationalistic position. It is at these moments people look back towards national heroes. The national hero in this case is Elizabeth I, whose Armada painting has been restored and has been placed on permanent exhibition In the Queens House. Historian Eric Hobsbawm described how monarchs, and past monarchs contribute towards a nations national identity. Hobsbawm’s description included a reference to the way we look towards monarchs as ‘guarantors of loyalty’ also an insight into the divine dynastic legacy that emphasises a continuity of influence in the past and future. (Hobsbawm, 2013, P. 84) Queen Elizabeth I has held a place in the nation’s heart and identity for centuries, remaining one of the most popular figures in British History. However, is it plausible to believe that current political events has swayed a deeper interest in the Queen and her iconographic portraits? After all, the queen’s accomplishments came at a time when there was once again tension between England and Europe. (Wiesner-Hanks, Cambridge, P. 302)

 

Annie E. Coombes also highlights a different angle in comparison to Hobsbawm. Coombes highlights that through the growth of multiculturalism in Britain, there is a desire to display British History in an aim not just to remind the British of their history, also to display British History to others from across the globe. (Coombes, 2004, P. 280) The way the Royal Museums Greenwich portray such themes is indefinitely in my opinion a show of something that is very dear to British History. The theme is Maritime visions, and knowledge that ultimately contribute to an idea of greatness. Greatness, manifested through stories of conquest, victory, suffering and identity.

 

Bibliography

 

Coombes, Annie E, Museums and the Formation of National and Cultural Identities, In Grasping the World, The Idea of the Museum, Ed. By Donald Preziosi and Claire Farago (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2004)

 

Hobsbawm, Eric, Nations and Nationalism since 1780, Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013)

 

Wiesner-Hanks, Merry E, Early Modern Europe, 1450-1789 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006)

 

The Invasion of the High Visibility Army

Children Museum Picture

On walking through the grounds of the National Maritime Museum, one cannot help but observe an organised military movement. This movement appears in high visibility fluorescent vests. Their movement is controlled in military fashion by teachers and the high visibility army are children. Many thoughts go through my mind on witnessing this everyday occurrence within the Museum. I often think how school Museum trips have changed, since I visited Museum’s as a child on a school trip. However, more key questions also spring to mind such as, are Museum’s as inspirational to some of these children as they were, and still are to me? Furthermore, what is the role of the Museum within education today? The curiosity and imagination of a child is a beautiful attribute to behold. The role that a Museum plays in shaping a child’s perception of History is imperative to the way History is perceived and conserved in the future. The High Visibility Army indeed has its role to play.

 

My first childhood memory involving History in Museums was indeed an inspirational one. Furthermore, a contributing factor that lead to my increase of interest in History. The wax work figure of Richard the Lionheart was a window into history that undoubtedly opened my mind and imagination to a world of history. It is a comforting feeling if perhaps, one child out of thirty children that walk-through Museums today could feel the same way I felt on that day. However, I do understand that each child’s perception is different from one another. Although, it does not mean that Museum artefacts do not in some way, have an effect on opening a door within a child’s mind to so many questions regarding the artefact in the child’s line of sight. These moments within the child’s mind are imperative to the contribution of what Ludmilla Jordanova describes as the formulation of the ‘way of seeing’ (Jordanova, 2012, P. 162) A child’s approach in evaluating an artefacts meaning on first sight on an emotional level is incredibly diverse, and it is within these formulating moments a child absorbs and assesses the information radiating from the Museum’s artefact with decreased sensitivity in comparison with adults. (Rai, Flynn,2006, P.92) However, one may think do Museum’s solely have this environment to unlock a child’s mind? The answer is no! However, what a Museum does provide is an imperative contentious connection with the past. (Fairley, 1977, P. 3) The sense of immediacy through contact also, elevates the effect of the inspirational factor, which in correlation which the curatorial effects envelop the child’s sensitive senses. (Fairley, 1977, P.3)

 

A Museum’s purpose within education is visible for all to see. When a child links a piece of information derived from an artefact and connects it to what they have learnt at school. Furthermore, as John A. Fairley points out the Museum also plays a part in constructing a child’s ‘imaginative awareness’ (Fairley, 1977, P.3) The connection between the knowledge derived from school, and visible elements the Museum provides encourage a child to combine the two informative elements together. It is plausible to believe that Museums today form a part of education, that acts as a way to bring History to life.

Perhaps one final thought, Ultimately the children who appear in Museums day in day out are not only there to learn. The children are also there to have fun, and it is through having fun that a child is more relaxed. Which in my mind provides a better environment that further enriches a child’s learning.

 

Bibliography

 

 

Fairley, John A, History Teaching Through Museums (London, Longman, 1977)

 

Jordanova, Ludmilla, The Look of the Past, Visual and Material Evidence in Historical Practice (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012)

 

Rai, Lucy and Ronny Lynn, Understanding Children (Milton Keynes, The Open University, 2006)