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Beyond the Looking Glass: object handling and access to museum collections

Beyond the Looking Glass: object handling and access to museum collections
Beyond the Looking Glass: object handling and access to museum collections
For many, a museum visit may consist of gazing at objects locked away in glass a cabinet accompanied by signs forbidding touch, and complex and often confusing text panels. But what message does this present to the visiting public? How can the public connect with museums and their collections if objects are beyond their reach? Why is handling reserved for the museum elite and not the general public?
The value of touch and object handling in museums is a growing area of research, but also one that is not yet fully understood. Despite our range of senses with which we experience the world around us, museums traditionally rely on the visual as the principle means of communicating information about the past. However museums are increasingly required to prove their worth and value in society by becoming more accessible, not just in terms of audience but by opening up their stored collections, and government agenda is pushing for culture to feature in the everyday lives of the public.
This research pulls apart the hierarchical nature of touch in the museum, demonstrating the benefits of a “hands-on” approach to engaging with the past, investigating the problems and limitations associated with tactile experiences, and puts forward a toolkit for tactile access to collections. It suggests that handling museum collections, not only enhances our understanding of the past, but provides memorable and valuable experiences that will remain with an individual for life.
Walker, Alexandra
6d2dba58-1111-4ad9-9522-a50f6e9630dc
Walker, Alexandra
6d2dba58-1111-4ad9-9522-a50f6e9630dc
Moser, Stephanie
af3009ce-a7c4-4550-a180-7e1987b7deed

Walker, Alexandra (2013) Beyond the Looking Glass: object handling and access to museum collections. University of Southampton, Faculty of Humanities, Doctoral Thesis, 258pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

For many, a museum visit may consist of gazing at objects locked away in glass a cabinet accompanied by signs forbidding touch, and complex and often confusing text panels. But what message does this present to the visiting public? How can the public connect with museums and their collections if objects are beyond their reach? Why is handling reserved for the museum elite and not the general public?
The value of touch and object handling in museums is a growing area of research, but also one that is not yet fully understood. Despite our range of senses with which we experience the world around us, museums traditionally rely on the visual as the principle means of communicating information about the past. However museums are increasingly required to prove their worth and value in society by becoming more accessible, not just in terms of audience but by opening up their stored collections, and government agenda is pushing for culture to feature in the everyday lives of the public.
This research pulls apart the hierarchical nature of touch in the museum, demonstrating the benefits of a “hands-on” approach to engaging with the past, investigating the problems and limitations associated with tactile experiences, and puts forward a toolkit for tactile access to collections. It suggests that handling museum collections, not only enhances our understanding of the past, but provides memorable and valuable experiences that will remain with an individual for life.

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More information

Published date: February 2013
Additional Information: The student has made a comment that she only wants her dataset available to Soton University registered users only. I'm not sure if this is possible
Organisations: University of Southampton, Archaeology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 374734
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/374734
PURE UUID: 6d8b4c0a-fd0f-4458-9e69-13f85dfe0281

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Date deposited: 10 Mar 2015 14:22
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 21:23

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