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Title: Beyond the Looking Glass : object handling and access to museum collections
Author: Walker, Alexandra
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2013
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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.
Supervisor: Moser, Stephanie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)