Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Displays and Disaffection

Academic journal article Journal of Information Ethics

Displays and Disaffection

Article excerpt

Museums collect and often display artifacts that allow visitors to better understand the past or specific events, their fellow human beings, and the natural world. They also make available works such as paintings, prints, pottery, sculptures, films, and hundreds of other esthetically pleasing items. In the distant past, objects were merely heaped up in disarray (in cabinets, for example); later, an attempt at orderly juxtaposition became an important part of the curator's task. Today, museology is an extremely complex business wherein organizations compete with each other in order to see which can create the most gorgeous or complex or truly astounding dioramas or interactive displays. Some museums now feature planeteria, IMAX theaters, and living animals.

Most of any major museum's collection is hidden from public view. When some objects are chosen for actual display, a choice must be made. Many competing demands roil curators as they cull out one painting or shell or fossil or headdress rather another. But the overriding theme of the show is probably uppermost in their minds. No matter what form the final display takes, there will always be some carping party who is dissatisfied. …

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