The senses in museums

Knowledge production, democratization and indigenization

Authored by: Cara Krmpotich

The Routledge Handbook of Sensory Archaeology

Print publication date:  November  2019
Online publication date:  October  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138676299
eBook ISBN: 9781315560175
Adobe ISBN:


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Museums in the twenty-first century have received sustained critique as ocularcentric institutions. Effort is underway within museums to expand the range of sensorial engagements visitors have with collections and with the architecture and spaces of museums themselves. A historical look at museum practice positions the inclusion and prioritizing of different senses in relation to ideas of the production of knowledge, but also in relation to broader social and cultural changes enacted through the politicized space of the museum. Within museum anthropology, multisensory museum practice presents an opportunity to decolonize the institution and to actively encourage indigenous modes of knowledge production. I suggest the next challenge for collecting institutions seeking to decolonize is the inclusion of multisensory and affective relationships between people and objects within catalogue records.

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