Constructing spaces, representing places

The role of landscape in open-air museum sites

Authored by: Antonia Noussia

The Routledge Companion to Landscape Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  February  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415684606
eBook ISBN: 9780203096925
Adobe ISBN: 9781136220609


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How might we imagine a museum in the open air? How might we conceptualize the importance of space in such a museum? The conventional museum conjures up images of a highly ordered and differentiated space, with the passage of time and history classified behind glass cases and inside buildings of often imposing architecture. Museums are seen as cultural forms for ‘showing and telling’ in an attempt to communicate certain cultural meanings and values while they transmit experience to the visitor through movement as ‘organized walking’. Artefacts are arranged to create a particular narrative which reveals the dominant role of the institution, as represented by the curators. In open-air museums, these narratives are translated into secluded landscapes which have many characteristics in common with public open spaces and parks. Therefore, open-air museums are hybrids, fusing elements of conventional museums which are aiming to collect, preserve and display artefacts, and of open spaces which are constructed so as to create a sense of place. This dual identity of combining museum concepts and practices with landscape design gives them their complex and unique character.

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