Tales from the Crypt: Museum Storage and Meaning

Displaying university storage.
Displaying university storage. Exhibition “Ich sehe wunderbare Dinge”, Museum Giersch, 19. Oktober 2014 – 8. Februar 2015 »100 Jahre Sammlungen der Goethe-Universität«

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Museums are about display. But are they really? In spite of recent curatorial attempts to exhibit ‘visible storage’, prevailing debates in the history of museums and collecting are mainly centred around questions of exhibiting, display and spectatorship. This kind of discourse, however, distorts the museum in many ways: it ignores the fact that museums do not just consist of exhibition halls but of vast hidden spaces; it leaves millions of objects out of our museum histories; and lastly, it presents the museum as an organized and stable space, in which only museological ‘results’ are visible not the intermediate stage of their coming into being. Display seems to be about the structured, purposeful, strategic gathering of things according to a system, the features of which are clearly defined. What remains out of sight is the fact that the majority of museum objects lie in storage.

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