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    Rehabilitating unauthorised touch or why museum visitors touch the exhibits

    Candlin, Fiona (2017) Rehabilitating unauthorised touch or why museum visitors touch the exhibits. Senses and Society 12 (3), pp. 251-266. ISSN 1745-8927.

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    In 2014 Senses and Society published a special issue on ‘Sensory Museology’. Registering the emergence of this new multi-disciplinary field, the editor usefully observed that ‘its most salient trend has been the rehabilitation of touch’. Arguably, however, touch has only been rehabilitated as an area of study insofar as it is authorised by the museum. Scholars have rarely considered the propensity of visitors to touch museum exhibits when they do not have permission to do so. In this article I suggest that the academic emphasis on authorised forms of contact privileges the institution’s aims and perspective. Conversely, researching unauthorised touch places a higher degree of emphasis on the visitors’ motivations and responses, and has the capacity to bring dominant characterisations of the museum into question. I substantiate and work through these claims by drawing on interview-based research conducted at the British Museum, and by investigating why visitors touch the exhibits without permission, what they touch, and what experiences that encounter enables.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Sensory museology, touch, museums, exhibits, visitors, vandalism.
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Fiona Candlin
    Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2017 09:53
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:34


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